Josh Rosenau's picture

Will Kentucky Legislators Block Good Science Standards?

In June 2013, the Kentucky board of education voted to approve new statewide science standards. Kentucky was one of 26 states that helped draft the Next Generation Science Standards, so it was little surprise that the board adopted those standards easily. Kansas and Rhode Island had already adopted the same standards, and Vermont, Maryland, and California have all done the same since then. Before long, dozens of states are likely to do the same.

Unfortunately, climate change deniers and creationists in the legislature want a do-over. State law requires that new regulations, including science standards, receive a legislative hearing before the governor can finalize them. Tomorrow, September 11, the first such committee hearing will take place, and it looks like it could be a doozy.

Originally, I thought this committee (containing equal numbers of members of the state House and Senate, and equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans) would simply shunt the new standards to an education committee, where the real battle would come. But I’m hearing now that one Democrat—a likely supporter of NGSS—will be absent tomorrow, and opponents might try to block the bill.

This is a case where sunshine will be the best disinfectant. If you live in Kentucky, I need your help speaking up today and tomorrow to keep evolution and climate change in the standards. If you don’t live in the Bluegrass State, I hope you’ll let your friends there know what’s happening. The meeting of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee will take place in Frankfort at the State Capitol Annex in Room 154, at 1 PM Eastern, and science supporters need to be there.

We need to make it clear that we’re watching, and that good science standards are good for Kentucky. Legislators are likely to attack evolution and climate change, to try to take them out of the standards or introduce pseudoscientific attacks. Knowledgeable people need to be there to set the record straight, and to make it clear that these standards already went through review by the nation’s leading scientists and educators, were drafted with input from the Kentucky Board of Education, and that the legislature shouldn’t second-guess the board’s decision.

Whether or not you or your friends can make it to the hearing, I hope you’ll also sign this petition from Kentuckians for Science president Rob Bevins.

Bevins just emailed to add:

Tea Party individuals have been bombarding the offices of the ARRS subcommittee members with blatant misinformation, and plan on being present in force tomorrow. I have been told that over 200 calls went to Rep. Lee and assume that similar pressure has been put on other members. If you can be present at all, please be there, SIGN IN, and mark that you are there to support the NGSS.

Among the distortions are the patently false claim that physics is not covered in the standards, which has no basis in reality. The standards include deep and involved discussions of physics and engineering, such that students who only complete the minimum required science education will have a better physics education than I received through high school.

Can you be there to help Bevins and other Kentucky for Science Education?