Is the Government About to Force Schools to Teach Global Warming?

By Cameron Pipkin

After taking a closer look at the NRC Science Standards draft—already adopted by more than half the states in the US—I’m actually pretty excited about them. They share three of the best features of the Common Core Standards—they establish learning progressions (every year you build upon previous knowledge); they teach fewer concepts, but more in depth; and, in part, they focus on performance.

Having said that, if the Common Core sparked a storm of controversy, I can only imagine how angry these standards will make some people. Clearly, when you establish science standards, you’re getting into the realm of dictating curriculum, and what’s worse, curriculum that many consider far from settled.

Case in point: the NRC framework draft says:

Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (“global warming”).

Uh oh. We all know where that’ll take public dialogue.

And then there’s the issue of evolution, a subject that will always ruffle feathers. The standards, obviously, require students to learn evolution, though, search as I might, I have yet to find a “creationism” standard in the draft.

Which is all to say that, when the controversy begins over these science standards, opponents of NRC documents will have even more ammunition than Common Core detractors, even though science is far from dangerous, and these standards are no more a federal mandate than the Common Core.

And as far as I’m concerned, people have always been wound too tightly over science curriculum. The education our children receive extends beyond what appears in a textbook—there’s a lot of social learning going on as well. Like it or not, our sons and daughters, upon graduation, will be released into a world full of people with opinions and ideas that differ from their own. Won’t they be better equipped to succeed in that world if they’ve been exposed to things they don’t believe, or aren’t supposed to believe, long before they turn 18?

I’d love to get your thoughts. What do you think of the idea of national science standards? Is this something enough of us can agree on to actually pass? Should we send our children to schools where they might be taught things that we as parents disagree with?



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