Putting Education Reform To The Test

Science Education Group Seeking Florida Support For New Standards

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Advocates for new science standards are asking Florida supporters to speak up.

Advocates for new science standards are urging Florida residents to voice their support.

The concept for the science standards is separate, but similar to that of the math and English language arts standards which comprise the Common Core. Florida, 44 other states and the District of Columbia have fully adopted the Common Core standards.

The California-based National Center for Science Education is urging Florida members to voice their support for the standards, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, during a comment period this month. Supporters are worried the Florida Department of Education might back away from the science standards the public response is negative.

The standards include teaching students about evolution and human-caused climate change. State education leaders are reviewing the standards across the country and deciding whether they want to adopt them.

“We understand that the NGSS isn’t perfect and some folks have legitimate concerns about them,” three members of Florida Citizens for Science wrote in an email to members. “But overall, the NGSS are a significant improvement over our current state standards. Quite frankly, it’s unlikely that any future state-level effort could match the effort and resources that went into the NGSS.”

Florida has led the charge for Common Core. But the Next Generation Science Standards, have been a different matter.

So far, 26 states have said they will consider the standards, according to Achieve, a non-profit encouraging states to adopt Common Core and the new science standards. Two states have adopted the science standards. Florida is not among either group.

The Fordham Institute, a leading Common Core supporter, has advised states to approach the science standards with caution.

Education officials have told StateImpact Florida that the politics of Common Core — which is being challenged in other states — may be difficult enough. They said state Education Commissioner Tony Bennett has been advised it might be wise to avoid picking a fight over science standards before Common Core is fully in place by fall 2014.

The full email from the National Center for Science Education, forwarding a message from Florida Citizens for Science, is below:

Dear NCSE member,

I am forwarding to you an important email from the Florida Citizens for Science (which, if you’re not already a member, you should consider joining here:  http://www.flascience.org/join.html ).

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are up for public review in Florida, and it is important that pro-science Florida residents voice their support for these standards. Around the country, the Next Generation Science Standards face opposition because of the prominence of evolution and climate change science. While the Next Generation standards are not perfect, their adoption would benefit Florida students.

Please read the email below and follow the links to voice your support for quality science standards in Florida.

Steven Newton

Florida Citizens for Science members:

First of all, thank you for being a member of this organization. It has been a while since we’ve been called into action, but despite this quiet period we’ve still been here watchful and ready. Your continued support is invaluable to our being effective when the situation calls for it.

We now have a situation that needs your support and action in order to be successful. The mission of Florida Citizens for Science is to support and defend sound science education in our state. Here in June we have an opportunity to do that. The Florida Department of Education is considering a new set of state science standards to replace the ones adopted by the Board of Education in 2008. The new ones are the “national” Next Generation Science Standards that are being offered to all states for adoption. They parallel the Common Core standards effort for reading, writing and math already adopted by Florida and many other states. If you’re not familiar with the NGSS, please take a moment to go to their website and check them out: http://www.nextgenscience.org/.

The DoE has fairly quietly initiated a statewide public review of the NGSS. The period will last until the end of this month. The first thing we are asking each and every one of you to do is take some time to go to the review site and participate. The site to do so is: http://www.cpalms.org/standards/NGSS_Public_Opinion_Survey.aspx.
Secondly, we ask that you network with others to spread the word. We need to get as many people as possible who are truly advocates for great science education to provide knowledgeable and helpful input.

There certainly is opposition to the NGSS out there. Sometimes, the opposition is due to the prominence of evolution and climate change in the standards. Sometimes the opposition stems from groups who dislike the erroneous perceived federal government takeover of states’ education.

We’ve been told that if the Florida public review results in a majority of negative comments, the DoE will drop consideration of the NGSS and not even put them before the Board of Education for adoption. For the time being, Florida Citizens for Science will keep a fairly low profile and instead work behind the scenes and network with other science education advocates in this review effort. We would prefer to not stir up the opposition too much, if possible. The Florida Association of Science Supervisors has endorsed the NGSS, and we are reaching out to other organizations to see where they stand.  https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxmbHNjaWVuY2VzdXBlcnZpc29yc3xneDo3NTU4OTJmZTczNTZkMWRi

If you have any suggestions for people to contact, please let us know. If you have any advice or insider knowledge, pass that along, too. We understand that the NGSS isn’t perfect and some folks have legitimate concerns about them. But overall, the NGSS are a significant improvement over our current state standards. Quite frankly, it’s unlikely that any future state-level effort could match the effort and resources that went into the NGSS.

As you review the NGSS for DoE there are some things to think about:
Florida will need to review and revise the 2008 science standards within a year or two.  At the same time it will need to update the FCAT.  Both of these are time consuming and expensive projects.  Florida taxpayers do not need to go it alone when there are excellent National Standards available.

The NGSS have been developed from a framework developed by a collaboration of industry, scientists and science education specialists to meet the expected needs of our future students, industry jobs and the nation.

Future high paying jobs depend on STEM  industries – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Florida education must be on par or above other states if we are to attract these jobs.

Thank you in advance for your help!


Joe Wolf:  President, Florida Citizens for Science
Jonathan Smith:  Vice President, Florida Citizens for Science
Brandon Haught:  Communications Director, Florida Citizens for Science

Steven Newton
Programs and Policy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
Phone: (510) 601-7203 x306
Fax: (510) 601-7204
Toll-free: 1-800-290-6006


Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct the number of states which are considering the new science standards.


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