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NGSS falters in Kentucky

Despite the recommendation of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education, a legislative committee voted not to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards for the state. At its September 11, 2013, meeting, the Kentucky legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee voted 5-1 to find the standards deficient. Robert Bevins, president of Kentuckians for Science Education, told the Lexington Herald-Leader (September 11, 2013) that rejecting the new standards would be a horrible embarrassment for the state.

The decision is not final, however, although it is unclear what the next stop in the approval process is going to be. Previously, the Herald-Leader (September 10, 2003) reported, "Whatever the review subcommittee decides, the approval process won't be over. The standards still must go before the state House and Senate's Interim Joint Committee on Education." In its September 11, 2013, story, the newspaper did not mention the joint committee but claimed that despite the subcommittee's vote, "Gov. Steve Beshear could implement [the standards] anyway."

The NGSS, as NCSE's Mark McCaffrey explained at LiveScience (April 5, 2013), are a new set of state science standards based on the National Research Council's A Framework for K-12 Science Education and developed by a consortium including twenty-six states. When they were released in their final version, The New York Times (April 9, 2013) observed, "The climate and evolution standards are just two aspects of a set of guidelines containing hundreds of new ideas on how to teach science. But they have already drawn hostile commentary from conservative groups critical of mainstream scientific thinking."

Nowhere, however, has such hostile commentary been so effective as in Kentucky. Five states — Rhode Island, Kansas, Maryland, Vermont, and California — have adopted the NGSS so far, and in none of those states was there such a visible resistance to their inclusion of evolution and climate change. Groups supporting Kentucky's adoption of the NGSS include Kentuckians for Science Education, the Kentucky Paleontological Society, the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, and the Kentucky Science Teachers Association.