Commentary: Attached is a letter from the LCPS Superintendent that clarifies the district’s position regarding the adoption of the proposed New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards.
October 3, 2017
Christopher N. Ruszkowski
Acting Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As the state moves forward with the long-anticipated adoption of new science
standards, the Las Cruces Public Schools wishes to express concerns about key
omissions in the proposed New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards. As an
early adopter of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), LCPS recognizes
the need for a revised vision of science education to prepare students for college,
career and citizenship. However, there is great concern that omissions in standards
that support conceptual understanding of complex systems will have a lasting
detrimental impact on science education. The removal of terminology such as
evolution and climate change flies in the face of the evidence accepted by the
majority of the scientific community. These omissions dilute the accuracy of key
scientific concepts that may forever impact the science literacy of students.
Public schools have the responsibility to provide students with the skills required
to become critical thinkers, capable of analyzing evidence and constructing
arguments based on the evidence. Taking on topics that are controversial and
engaging with content that has multiple interpretations is key to giving students the
opportunity to participate in authentic scientific inquiry. Removing these topics
would deny New Mexico students access to scientific inquiry, examination, and
debate that is fostered among students in states across the nation. Such a policy
decision would marginalize New Mexico students and render them less able to
compete with their peers across the nation and the globe.
The Las Cruces Public Schools continues to experience success with the
implementation of rigorous science standards. In 2015, LCPS began integrating
the Next Generation Science Standards, without modification, into science
curricula in grades 6-8. Science educators and stakeholders have embraced these
changes and there has been a notable increase in student achievement in science in
the middle grades.
Adopting modified standards not only imperils the education of students, but
potentially the economic future of our state. New Mexico can never hope to
improve quality of education, and in turn quality of life, if the state implements
policies that drive away industry and leave residents with fewer opportunities for
high wage employment.
Christopher N. Ruszkowski
On behalf of the students of New Mexico, now and future, we implore you to
provide them with access to science education that is afforded to students across
the nation. Maintain the integrity of science education by ensuring the NGSS
standards are adopted as designed, without omission of key scientific concepts.
This letter was unanimously approved by the Las Cruces Board of Education on
October 3, 2017.
Sra. Maria Flores
Las Cruces Board of Education 575.527.5807
Gregory Ewing, Ed.D.