LCPS superintendent criticizes proposed state science standards

New Mexico science standards could...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - In a letter to the New Mexico secretary of education, the Las Cruces Public Schools superintendent criticized the state's "long-anticipated" proposed new science standards.

The state of New Mexico could soon exclude terms like "evolution" and "climate change" in those proposed science standards, said Dr. Greg Ewing, superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools.

"Evolution" could soon be "biological diversity" and "climate change" could soon be "climate fluctuation" in those standards.

“Our teachers were very concerned about these omissions," said Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at LCPS. "If we’re just giving students only part of what’s out there, we’re doing a huge disservice both into their knowledge base and also the skill of looking critically at controversial information.”

In his October 3rd letter to New Mexico's acting secretary of education, Christopher Ruszkowski, Ewing states that the removal of those two terms "flies in the face of the evidence accepted by the majority of the science community."

Ruszkowski said despite the proposed changes, teachers will still control what's taught in their classroom.

"There's been science standards in New Mexico now for over a decade," Ruszkowski told KRQE in Albuquerque. "Our teachers have always had the access to adapt to their local needs and their local context."

Ewing criticized the state for "diluting the accuracy" of certain scientific concepts that could have long-term effects on students' scientific literacy.

Ewing also said that "adopting modified standards not only imperils the education of students, but potentially the economic future of our state." 

The state's Public Education Department will hold a public hearing on October 16th before any changes are finalized. 

New Mexico will likely nearly a third of the country in adopting the "Next Generation Science Standards," however, while doing so, the state is independently choosing to change the language of terms like "evolution" and "climate change," said State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces.

“These changes proposed by the education department are bad for jobs, they’re bad for students, they’re bad for our future," McCamley said.

McCamley said the new changes will not require legislative approval.

“This is being done for political purposes, and the problem with that is that you’re putting politics in front of our kids and in front of new jobs," McCamley said. "That’s going to hurt New Mexico.”

Calls to the secretary of education's office were not returned. However, ABC-7 reached out on a statewide holiday, Columbus Day.

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