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Battles over The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
As states discuss and move to adopt the new academic standards for teaching children science, called The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), these standards, just like in recent struggles over science textbook standards (see our recent article - “Significant Victories for Science in the Battle over Textbooks in Texas...But Creationists Cause Delay in the Approval of Key Biology Textbook” - http://www.defendscience.org/ds_commentary30.html ) are becoming a battle-ground and focus for attack by anti-science right-wing forces.
A couple of examples – The state of Wyoming just passed a budget that includes an amendment that “prohibits the State Board of Education and the Wyoming Department of Education from financing any further review or adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards” ( see http://trib.com/news/local/casper/work-goes-on-at-wyoming-department-of-education-despite-mixed/article_1abca10a-8a07-5491-9915-e0861785e5f1.html ). The governor Matt Mead approved and signed this budget.
In both Kansas and Kentucky, the NGSS standards have been adopted but in both places right-wing groups with anti-science agendas tried to derail this process - forces who oppose both the teaching of evolution and teaching climate science including its scientifically established findings that human's burning of fossil fuels is a major cause of global warming. Here's an example of the kind of Christian Fundamentalist fascist fanaticism these forces are working to whip up:
“Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Baptist minister and NGSS opponent Matt Singleton said at a Kentucky hearing in July. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”
Critical thinking and respect for the truth is of no concern to these forces. Instead what we get is an insidious method and howling irony in them calling the methods of those promoting science education “fascist”.
The New Cosmos series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey premiering tonight (Sunday March 9) on Fox (yes, that Fox) Watch It – Spread the Word
A most welcome development, in strong counterpoint to this anti-science backwardness, the new Cosmos series, written by Carl Sagan's wife and collaborator Ann Druyen, premieres tonight on Fox with Neil deGrasse Tyson as host. By getting Fox (and National Geographic channel) to air and promote Cosmos, this 13-episode television series has the possibility of reaching billions of people around the world.
The original Cosmos brought the scientific method, awe and wonder about the universe and science, the beauty and fragility of our planet and the amazing process that has developed a form of matter that can now contemplate and wonder and learn about the universe to millions of people here and world-wide. Over 400 million people in 60 countries have watched Cosmos. Many people have told how Cosmos influenced their thinking and their life.
Speaking to why she felt a new Cosmos series is needed 34 years after the original, Ann Druyen has said, “I always feel like it's the right time for Cosmos because it's always a good time to have that cosmic perspective and the kind of awesome power of science at your disposal. But here in the United States, I feel we've been coming out of a period of, if not outright hostility towards science, a period of alienation from science. We don't have that exploratory vision permeating our society ... I think it's an excellent time for Cosmos because it's time to get going again. I feel like there's an appetite."
We urge people to tell everyone they know about this – and urge them to watch it together with friends, colleagues.