New Mexico Backs Off Changes on Evolution, Climate Change in New State Science Standards

Part of a full-page ad that appeared in The New Mexican newspaper. National Center for Science Education

Bowing to pressure from educators, scientists, and members of the public, New Mexico is adopting widely used state science standards — without changing how evolution and global warming are taught.

Education Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski said Wednesday night that the state will use the Next Generation Science Standards, with the addition of six standards addressing New Mexico–specific accomplishments and history in science and technology. The New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards will take effect in July, and students will be tested on them starting in 2020, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement came after more than 60 scientists from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory publicly protested the proposed standards, which substituted the words “temperature fluctuations” for “global warming,” deleted the age of planet Earth, and removed “some of the discussion of evolution” from the Next Generation Science Standards, which are used by 18 states and Washington, D.C. Educators, scientists, and others also spoke out against the changes at a public hearing Oct. 16.

At a legislative hearing Thursday, lawmakers and citizens giving testimony called the state-specific additions unnecessary, accused Ruszkowski and the department of developing the standards secretly, and criticized him for not appearing at either hearing.

“New Mexicans and New Mexico is ready to move forward,” Ruszkowski told KOB. “Every day we spend talking about input is one less day we spend that we’re spending getting ready for implementation and talking about student outcomes. And we need to be focused on student outcomes, and in order for us to be laser-focused on student outcomes, moving forward, we need higher and better standards. This gets us there.”

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