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PED chief: Some districts weren’t ready for standards

New Mexico Public Education Chief Christopher Ruszkowski proposed 35 changes to the Next Generation Science Standards this fall because he had heard the respected national science curriculum could be unpopular in some parts of the state.

Ruszkowski addressed the controversy Wednesday after speaking to the Economic Forum of Albuquerque. A member of the audience asked Ruszkowski about the reasoning behind the proposed NGSS edits, which omitted some references to evolution, rising global temperatures and the age of Earth.

“I put a proposal on the table that could work for all 89 districts tomorrow,” Ruszkowski said. “Taos, APS, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, they’re going to teach the Next Generation Science Standards no matter what. These other districts that aren’t quite ready to get there will make a move, and then they’ll keep shifting. But as you saw, those four districts and those four communities were like, no, everyone should get there now.”

PED adopted the NGSS “in their entirety” with just six state-specific standards in late October after local and national education groups and science advocates blasted the proposal.

Hundreds of people packed an Oct. 16 public hearing on the plan; all 77 speakers were opposed.

On Wednesday, Ruszkowski said he was proud New Mexico was one of the earliest states led by a Republican governor to adopt Next Generation Science Standards.

The NGSS, issued in 2013 by a consortium of states and science groups, has a proven track record of success, Ruszkowski said.

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