Science Is Real. A campaign by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation & AFT New Mexico.

New Mexico's Acting Secretary of Education, Christopher Ruszkowski


BACKGROUND— Earlier this month, the PED announced their proposed changes to the science standards. Some changes included omitting “evolution” and “climate change”, among others. PED decided to hold their “public input” session during a school day (October 16), when educators are not able to attend. In spite of this, we are taking action to ensure that educators are heard & treated as the professionals we are.

ACTION- The text contained within this petition is the start of a collective letter, written by, and on behalf of, educators within the State of New Mexico, and will be given to the PED on October 16th. The letter is sent in petition form to ensure that educator testimony from across the state is included in the official record. Please add to Ellen's letter by sharing your expertise in the comment box to the right.

Together, we are stronger. Let's send a message to the PED and Christopher Ruszkowski.

To: New Mexico's Acting Secretary of Education, Christopher Ruszkowski
From: Marianna Anaya

Dear Acting Secretary Ruszkowski,

The home page of the New Mexico Public Education Department proclaims, “Kids First, New Mexico Wins!”

We wonder, Mr. Ruszkowski, what do you believe these kids—New Mexico students of all ages—deserve from their public school education?

We, the educators in New Mexico, believe our students deserve a strong public education. Their public education system, which you now lead, is their road to opportunity, their path to economic and racial justice, and the vehicle through which our students achieve their dreams. We believe, Mr. Ruszkowski, they deserve real science.

Science is real, Mr. Ruszkowski. According to the Science Council, science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.

Science involves more than the simple gaining of information. It is the systematic and organized inquiry into the natural world and its phenomena. Science is about gaining a deeper, and often useful, understanding of the world.

Interestingly, Philip Morris Hauser (as quoted in Theodore Berland's The Scientific Life) notes that:

Science is a discipline in which the rules of the game require the undermining of that which already exists, in the sense that new knowledge always necessarily crowds out inferior antecedent knowledge. . . Man has a tendency to resist changing his mind. The history of the physical sciences is replete with episode after episode in which the discoveries of science . . . had a hard time achieving acceptability and respectability. Galileo was forced to recant; Bruno was burned at the stake, and so forth. An interesting thing about the physical sciences is that they did achieve acceptance. Certainly in the more economically advanced areas of the Western World, it has become commonplace to do everything possible to accelerate the undermining of existent knowledge about the physical world. The underdeveloped areas of the world today still live in a pre-Newtonian universe. They are still resistant to anything subversive, anything requiring change; resistant even to the ideas that would change their basic concepts of the physical world.

New Mexico must not resist science. We have an obligation to our students to ensure they have access to the unrevised, or in other words, the real Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students.

As noted by the developers of the standards, “Science—and therefore science education—is central to the lives of all Americans. A high-quality science education means that students will develop an in-depth understanding of content and develop key skills—communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem solving, and flexibility—that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives.”

More than three years in the making, the Next Generation Science Standards are designed to provide a greater emphasis on depth over breadth in studying the subject. They seek not only to provide students with a foundation of essential knowledge, but also to lead young people to apply their learning through scientific inquiry and the engineering-design process to deepen understanding.

These standards call for introducing climate science into the curriculum starting in middle school, and teaching high school students in detail about the effects of human activity on climate.

These standards take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution—the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century. To do less will mean New Mexico’s science will be substandard.

With politics first, Mr. Ruszkowski, New Mexico’s kids lose.


Dr. Ellen Bernstein and New Mexico's Professional Educators