Help Stop NGSS in its Tracks

Utah’s state board was misled in April by the state superintendent. He sent them an email either knowingly or unwittingly, telling state board members the new science standards were Utah created. Here is his email.

MEMORANDUM
TO: Members, Utah State Board of Education
FROM: Brad C. Smith
Chief Executive Officer
DATE: April 9-10, 2015
ACTION: Release Grades 6-8 Science Standards Draft for 90-Day Public Review
Background:
The Utah State Office of Education in collaboration with the Utah science education community (composed of Utah science teachers, Utah district science curriculum specialists, and Utah higher education representatives) has created a revised draft of the Utah Core Science Standards for grades 6-8. The revision is based on addressing concerns about the format of current science standards in multiple documents and presenting a single vision for college and career readiness in science education. The draft responds to feedback from multiple stakeholder groups including parents, teachers, district administrators, university personnel, and the State Board Standards and Assessment committee.

Superintendent Smith has thus far refused to answer several questions I have asked him concerning this email either verbally or in writing. We’ve known they were not Utah created for over a year now and that they were word for word exactly what the NGSS. There was no “draft” with feedback from multiple stakeholders, parents, teachers, admin, etc…In fact, last fall there was a training in these standards held at Weber State for teachers to get fully on board with them even though they had not been adopted or put through any type of public review process. It’s a total sham.

As a result of this email from the Superintendent, and no doubt plenty of testimony from USOE (which very well could have deceived the superintendent into sending out such a false email above), the state board released these NGSS standards into the public for a 90-day review period.

That review period pointed out dozens of serious issues with the standards on a wide range of topics. You can watch the Provo meeting here for an idea of concerns people raised.

As a result of these concerns, the state board asked that the concerns be addressed. The USOE got right to work and has now released the new draft of the standards for a 30-day period of review. The public needs to comment on these standards, but most importantly, contact your state board member and ask him/her not to vote these standards in. There is a very small subset of publishers that have materials ready for NGSS. Teachers are not trained in this method of teaching. Several teachers spoke out about this in that Provo meeting linked to above. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And to top things off, the USOE’s rewrite of NGSS is exactly that, simply a minor rewrite of the same standards.

Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEEdReview

Link to find your board member and contact him/her:

http://elections.utah.gov/map/district-maps

Contact info for your board member:

http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2

Vince Newmeyer, a member of the science standards parent review committee has typed up this review of the standards. Please read it.

Review of the USOE October Proposed “Utah SEEd” Standards

revised 26 October 2015

USOE Admits that they Seek to adopt the National Next Generation Science Standards1

The Utah State Office of Education has come out with another draft of the proposed science standards on the 9th of October for a SHORT 30 DAY review. Your response is urgently needed!

Executive Summary:

The October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards remain in character and precept simply the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which is the complement2 to the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which Utah adopted and which invited so much protest. The only NGSS performance standards that have been dropped from the October draft had to do with perfectly acceptable standards related to kinetic energy and a standard on sensory organs and the brain. Only two standards were added from Utah’s existing Science Standards. Essentially all of the reasons3 4 for rejecting the national NGSS standards from the April revision (then feigned as “primarily Utah” derived SEEd standards5) remain with the October version of the “Utah SEEd” NGSS standards. Though there are minor changes, a mostly NGSS Utah State standard will almost certainly produce a curriculum of essentially all of NGSS as teachers and districts seek NGSS compatible material for textbooks and lesson plans, etc. Any standards founded on NGSS should be rejected so that Utah can develop true Utah standards in character and values. Please respond to the online survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEEdReview) but also Call and Email the Board members as well as Ricky Scott, the State Science Specialist, and Brad Smith the State Superintendent Now!

The Background:

In April, when the first publicly presented draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards was released for the 90-day public review, the USOE tried to falsely cast the proposed standards as a Utah grown, Utah values effort. In spite of the many notices to them that their charade was not working, and that those who have investigated knew that the proposed standards were word-for-word taken from the NGSS performance standards, yet the USOE persisted in this masquerade even up through the last public meeting held on the standards. For one of many examples, you can watch Diana Suddreth parrot the tired line at that last public hearing in Salt Lake City on the standards that

the standards … have been developed over a process of about three years in conjunction with primarily Utah science educators but with input from others along the way,”6

and yet there were not five words difference between the proposed Utah performance standards and the NGSS performance standards. How could this April draft be a “Utah” driven process which lasted, as Dianna said, “about three years?” Within the final document there was no copyright notice. One would expect to find a copyright notice, like the one specified by the copyright holder of the NGSS (“© Copyright 2013 Achieve, Inc. All rights reserved.”) if it were a copy, but less than 5 words of no significant difference and no copyright notice?

Why such subterfuge in the presentation of these standards? Almost certainly it is because USOE officials gave assurances through multiple representatives on multiple occasions (after the heat they received in the way the “Common Core” with all of its baggage was slipped in) that Utah would not adopt further national standards. See Youtube Utah’s Science7

After the review for the first publicly released draft had been completed, the board voted and sent the draft back for a fundamental re-write. Further, there were promises made from a USOE official that the rewritten document would not be just a thesaurus translation but have a foundationally different character on controversial issues, such as global warming and Darwinian evolution. Well did it happen?

The New Draft:

The largest change in the character and nature of the standards, as presented to the board of education, is that the standards are no longer cast as a Utah derived proposal but that Utah “…SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”8 No longer are they falsely casting this as a Utah grown, Utah values effort, but they are admitting that this is a national standard which they are attempting to adopt. But neither are they completely straight forward with the issue. More completely, the forward material says “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards (emphasis added).”9

In this case “most” means that all of the performance standards proposed are fundamentally NGSS performance standards with the exception of three (3). Two standards are drawn from concepts in the current Utah standards, and one is a further explanation of the greenhouse gas concept. All of the rest of the standards (that is all but these three) are NGSS either exact wording, a thesaurus translation, or in four cases a combination of several NGSS standards. It is interesting to note that long before this standard was released, this author made a list of 27 performance standards from the proposed April NGSS “Utah SEEd” standards which were of a potential concern (depending on how they actually ended up being taught). Only seven of the 27 concerning standards showed some improvement in wording in that they were stated in less dogmatic terms or were re-framed in a manner that brought less concern to one degree or another. Of those seven standards that appeared to have a less bias or concerning cast to them, only three (two of which was of low concern to begin with) really made it on the concern list. That is the sum that could be claimed to be an improvement! The only other adjustment was that the perfectly acceptable performance standards related to kinetic energy were removed, and also a standard about “sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain” was also removed. It is likely these minor changes reflect more the changes that will be adopted in future versions of the NGSS and not a fundamental change from internal Utah motivations.

The retention of NGSS problematic standards persists even down to the widely discredited notion that embryological development follows the claimed evolutionary development or “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” in NGSS MS-LS4-3 or 7.5.4 in the October draft. This notion and fabricated evidence to promote the notion was erroneously advanced by Ernst Haeckel in the late 1800s. It is now and has been for some time widely recognized, by those who have studied embryological development in depth, to be completely false10. For just one example, Erich Blechschmidt commented in his 1977 book The Beginnings of Human Life.

“The so-called basic law of biogenetics [Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny] is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form, making it valid in a certain percentage. It is totally wrong.”11

Sometime ago, while the 90 day public review of the science standards proposed in April were under way, I pointed out that the word-for-word effort to adopt the NGSS was a measure of the allegiance of USOE to remain true to the NGSS national standard. Now, with this October revision we see that the resolve of USOE to adopt the NGSS has not diminished. The USOE even doggedly clings to NGSS tenants that have for a long time been discredited. Further, this shows that the USOE has every intention to adopt all of the NGSS K-12 in which the larger portion has not even been discussed.

The forward material of the new draft claims various other improvements such as more clarity, implementations from the Fordham report, removal of age inappropriate material, and such12. It is ironic that the added clarity largely comes from the adoption of additional verbiage from the NGSS such as NGSS Clarification Statements, either word-for-word or closely tied language. These Clarification Statements had previously existed in drafts produced prior to the April draft but they did not go out to public review. Furthermore, I had stated from the beginning of the April review period that USOE almost certainly had every intention of reincorporating the Clarification Statements in one form/method or another and now here they are emerging just as predicted. As for changes made related to the Fordham report, I see no significant evidence of such. It appears to be a lip service only claim. The last thing I will comment on in this area is the statement that “Age Appropriateness” adjustment have been made as performance standards which encouraged “students debate with evidence about climate change and human effects on the environment were removed from 6th grade.” Yes they were removed from 6th grade only to reappear in the 8th grade standards. Still 8th grade is not what I would consider age appropriate.

Summary NGSS founded NGSS results

While we see that there were minor adjustments for the better, the fact remains that these are NGSS performance standards with mere token deviations. Therefore, when districts and teachers seek to further develop their curriculum, and consider that the State has essentially adopted the NGSS, books, lesson plans, and other sources which teachers and districts will be looking for to further support their curriculum which were developed by others to be NGSS compliant, we will find the full NGSS in every detail will be right back into the classroom, complete in its materialistic and biased character. The USOE has previously pledged to reject further adoption of national standards by multiple representatives at multiple forums13. The reasons for rejecting such national standards has not diminished nor have they varied in any significance from what was offered in the April draft.

Reject the adoption of the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards.

Thanks,

Vincent Newmeyer

Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEEdReview

Link to find your board member and contact him/her:

http://elections.utah.gov/map/district-maps

Contact info for your board member:

http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2

Footnotes:

1 USOE now admits in, “Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review,” October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7, that “Most SEEd standards remain based on” NGSS. Later in this text we will see that USOE definition of “most” means it is essentially all NGSS.

2 See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???”
http://www.sciencefreedom.org/NGSS-is-Common-Core-Science.html

3 See paper “Issues With Next Generation Science Standards Proposed for Adoption in Utah and the Adoption Process”

4 See paper “Rebuttal To ‘Why the Critics of the Next Generation Science Standards are Wrong: A Position Paper'” http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Rebuttal-to-Why-the-Critics-of-the-Next-Generation-Science-Standards-are-Wrong.html

5 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s

6 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s

8 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7

9 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7

10 Besides the example given, you may also want to read Jonathan Wells’ article “SURVIVAL OF THE FAKEST” http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/survivalOfTheFakest.pdf

12 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7

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