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Update from Kentucky

The Next Generation Science Standards avoided a potential obstacle in Kentucky when the Interim Joint Committee on Education decided not to address the issue of their adoption, according to WFPL radio in Louisville, Kentucky (October 15, 2013). As NCSE previously reported, the NGSS faltered in Kentucky on September 11, 2013, when the legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee voted 5-1 to find the standards deficient, despite the fact that they were recommended by the state department of education and the state board of education, as well as by the Kentucky Science Teachers Association. Governor Steve Beshear promptly announced that he planned to implement the NGSS under his own authority.

Why did the subcommittee vote to find the standards deficient? Senator Perry B. Clark (D-District 37), the sole member of the subcommittee to vote to adopt the standards, told Live Science (October 9, 2013), "The furor is about climate and evolution." He added, "Some said we had to wait for the opinions of the Kentucky citizens. I said, 'You don't wait for 'opinions' on science." Similarly, the Lexington Herald-Leader (October 13, 2013), said of those opposed to the state's adopting the NGSS, "Some argue that the standards treat evolution as fact rather than theory. Others claim the guidelines overemphasize global climate issues while ignoring other areas of science."

The Interim Joint Committee on Education could have addressed the NGSS, and, as WFPL explains, it "could still hold a special meeting between now and Nov. 1, but co-chair Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Franklin, says 'it's a done deal' and the standards have overwhelming support of the business and science communities." Beshear still needs officially to notify the state Legislative Research Commission of his decision to override the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee's vote. And it remains possible for the Kentucky General Assembly to override Beshear's decision when it reconvenes in January 2014. Eight states — Washington, Delaware, California, Rhode Island, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Vermont — have adopted the NGSS so far.