SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Public Education Department won’t explain the origin of changes to the state’s public school science standards that omit all references to climate change caused by human activity.
State Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said the department received input from several groups for the teaching standards, but declined to name the groups, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/2yYva1r ) on Tuesday.
Individuals and groups provided confidential feedback when the secretary and department officials traveled to meet people interested in education, said Lida Alikhani, a spokeswoman for the department.
The teaching standards are based on a set developed by National Science Teachers Association and the National Research Council and have been adopted by 18 states. New Mexico has proposed several additions and deletions to its version of standards that have drawn criticism. The changes included substituting references to climate change, omitting the age of the earth and limiting references to evolution.
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The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, a group that promotes education and provides science materials and curriculum to schools in the state, has said it opposes the proposed changes. In a letter to the department, the foundation said the process for creating the standards lacked transparency and the department ignored the Math and Science Advisory Council’s guidance. The foundation said the changes might be politically-motivated and there has been no explanation of why they were proposed. The state education department is part of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’ administration.
Alikhani said the department has taken the foundation’s feedback seriously, and any changes to the standards would be made after a public hearing that’s scheduled later this month.
Ruszkowski said the department will first consider feedback before it proceeds with the new standards. He said the department is forming an implementation plan and timeline.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com