TMS board challenges state over science curriculum changes

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In a regular meeting Tuesday (Oct.10), the Taos Municipal Schools Board of Education voted 4-0 to accept a resolution drafted by school officials expressing their disapproval of the New Mexico Public Education Department's proposed changes to the state science standards.

The Taos school board joins a growing list of school districts across the state that have been openly against the changes, including Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos school districts. These resolutions are all focused on the state's choice to eliminate and change certain wordings in the existing standards.

According to the Taos Municipal Schools resolution, "diluting science standards for our public school by omitting references to evolution, rising temperatures and climate change places our students in Taos and New Mexico at a distinct disadvantage."

While teachers across the state are frustrated with the state's proposed changes, which they say they had no part in designing, New Mexico Secretary of Education Christopher Ruszkowski has said the changes are necessary to keep New Mexico's science standards current. The current standards were adopted by the state in 2003 and have not been ratified since 2009.

TMS Superintendent Lillian Torrez worked with school officials and members of other school districts to draft the resolution accepted by the board. Copies of the resolution were sent out to teachers, district officials and others at TMS. While presenting the resolution to the board, Torrez said she received support from those who read it.

"The feedback we received is 100 percent positive in moving forward with the resolution," Torrez said before the board passed the resolution.

Moving forward with the resolution means the board's next step is to send it to the PED as a public comment to the department. A public meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 16 at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, 300 Don Gaspar Ave., Santa Fe. The district encourages parents, teachers and community members to attend and give the department their comments in favor or opposition to the proposed changes. For those who cannot make it to the meeting, sending a letter to the PED before 5 p.m. Monday (Oct. 16) is another way to reach out to the PED about the changes. For more information, visit the department's website at ped.state.nm.us/ped/index.html.

Taos, Santa Fe and Los Alamos school district resolutions all call for some adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards rather than the state's proposed changes. Next Generation Science Standards were created by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and others and have already been adopted by several states in the nation.

New Mexico's proposed new science standards were created by the PED and teachers are still confused as to exactly who had a say in drafting the proposed standards.

The current New Mexico standards also include teaching students of the importance of New Mexico geological and nuclear history, something teachers wish to see left in the standards for the future.

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