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NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2017/10/13

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(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

The latest on the flawed set of science standards proposed in New
Mexico. Plus a survey suggests that the partisan divide over climate
change is increasing in the United States, and a survey of public
attitudes toward evolution in Britain and Canada shows a low level of
acceptance of creationism in those countries.

THE LATEST FROM NEW MEXICO

As the October 16, 2017, public hearing in Santa Fe on the new state
science standards proposed for New Mexico approaches, there is no sign
of the opposition to their omission of references to evolution, human
responsibility for climate change, and the age of the earth abating.

As NCSE previously reported, the proposed standards are modeled on the
performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards,
which have been adopted by eighteen states and the District of
Columbia so far. But, as Mother Jones (September 15, 2017) observed,
"the draft released by New Mexico's education officials changes the
language of a number of NGSS guidelines, downplaying the rise in
global temperatures, striking references to human activity as the
primary cause of climate change, and cutting one mention of evolution
while weakening others."

On October 10, 2017, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education
voted 5-1 to recommend the adoption of the entire NGSS unedited rather
than the proposed science standards, noting that "the changes do not
reflect valid science information as we understand it today."
According to the Albuquerque Journal (October 10, 2017), the
superintendent of the Albuquerque Public Schools sent a separate
letter opposing the proposed standards, highlighting "possible
economic impacts if national businesses don't move to New Mexico
because they believe the state's workforce is not well-educated."

The Albuquerque district is the largest in the state, but it is not
alone. As NCSE previously reported, the Los Alamos School Board
recommended adoption of the NGSS with the addition of certain
New-Mexico-specific standards rather than the proposed standards,
while the Santa Fe School Board unanimously voted to recommend the
adoption of the NGSS and furthermore agreed to stage a teach-in at the
Public Education Department in Santa Fe on October 13, 2017. The
school board and the superintendent in Las Cruces have also expressed
concern about the proposed standards, reports the Las Cruces Sun-News
(October 6, 2017).

Opposition continues to come from the state's scientific community as
well. Over sixty scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories signed
a letter that appeared as a full-page advertisement in the Santa Fe
New Mexican on October 9, 2017, stressing that "There is absolutely no
scientific rationale for weakening the treatment of these subjects."
Previously, the faculty senate at New Mexico Tech sent a letter
objecting to the divergences of the proposed standards from the NGSS
and urging the adoption of the NGSS. Further statements from faculty
at New Mexico's colleges and universities are expected.

As NCSE previously reported, the New Mexico Science Teachers'
Association, the National Education Association -- New Mexico, the
LANL Foundation, the National Science Teachers Association, and the
National Association of Biology Teachers have all expressed their
opposition to the proposed standards, as have the state's leading
newspapers, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Las Cruces Sun-News, and the
Albuquerque Journal, which memorably described them as "fly[ing] in
the face of accepted science" and "breathtaking in their
offensiveness."

The origin of the proposed standards is still mysterious. KOB-4 in
Albuquerque (October 12, 2017) asked the Public Education Department,
"If we're basing our science standards off a national standard, why
are we changing some of the key terminologies when it comes to climate
change? Why are we eliminating some of the discussion about evolution
and the earth's age? Who had input on developing the new standards and
making these changes?" Secretary-Designate of Education Christopher
Ruszkowski's answer was not responsive to any of the station's
questions.

There is still time -- if only a few days' worth -- for concerned New
Mexicans to protest the proposed standards. The Public Education
Department will be accepting written comments on the standards from
the public through October 16, 2017 and will then hold a public
hearing in Santa Fe.

For the story in Mother Jones, visit:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/new-mexico-remove-climate-change-evolution-public-education/ 

For the stories in the Albuquerque Journal and the Las Cruces Sun-News, visit:
https://www.abqjournal.com/1076141/aps-board-votes-to-criticize-science-curriculum-changes.html 
http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/education/lcps/2017/10/06/lcps-chief-criticizes-proposed-new-mexico-science-standards/741442001/ 

For the letter from the Los Alamos National Laboratories scientists
(PDF), visit:
https://ncse.com/files/FullPageScientistsAd-Final.pdf 

For the letter from the faculty senate at New Mexico Tech, visit:
http://www.dchieftain.com/opinion/editorials/tech-faculty-senate-weighs-in-on-proposed-ped-standards/article_087c162a-aea8-11e7-a7ed-c73fe3fc67e6.html 

For the KOB-4 story, visit:
http://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/public-eduation-department-ped-science-standards-changes-proposal/4632365/ 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Mexico, visit:
https://ncse.com/news/new-mexico 

PARTISAN DIVIDE OVER CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASES

"The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider," in the
words of a headline of a Pew Research Center report dated October 5,
2017 -- and public attitudes toward climate change are evidently
involved.

Overall, 74% of respondents agreed with "There is solid evidence that
the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer." Among
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 92% agreed, but among
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, only 52% agreed.

As for the cause of global warming, 53% of respondents attributed it
to human activity, 18% to natural patterns, and 3% indicated that they
didn't know; the remaining 23% did not accept that there was solid
evidence of global warming.

On the Republican side, 24% of Republican and Republican-leaning
independents attributed global warming to human activity, while 25%
attributed it to natural patterns and 3% indicated that they didn't
know; the remaining 48% did not accept global warming.

On the Democratic side, 78% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning
independents attributed global warming to human activity, while 18%
attributed it to natural patterns and 2% indicated that they didn't
know; the remaining 8% did not accept global warming.

The results are based on a telephone survey conducted June 8 to 18,
2017, among 2504 adults in the United States, and weighted for
demographics. The sampling error for the total sample is +/- 2.3%,
rising to +/- 3.5% and +/- 3.2% for the Republican and Democratic
portions.

For the portion of the report addressing climate change, visit:
http://www.people-press.org/2017/10/05/7-global-warming-and-environmental-regulation-personal-environmentalism/ 

And for NCSE's collection of polls and surveys on climate change, visit:
https://ncse.com/library-resource/polls-climate-change 

POLLING EVOLUTION IN BRITAIN AND CANADA

A recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom and Canada found that
the majority of respondents in both countries accepted evolution,
according to a September 5, 2017, press release.

Respondents were told "People have different views about the origin of
species and development of life on Earth. Which of the following
statements comes closest to your view about the origin and development
of life on Earth" and presented with five options:

* Humans and other living things were created by God and have always
existed in their current form -- preferred by 9% of British and 15% of
Canadian respondents;
* Humans and other living things evolved over time, in a process
guided by God -- preferred by 22% of British and 24% of Canadian
respondents;
* Humans and other living things evolved over time as a result of
natural selection, in which God played no part -- preferred by 49% of
British and 36% of Canadian respondents;
* I have another view about the origin of species and development of
life on Earth which isn't included in this list -- preferred by 10% of
British and 11% of Canadian respondents; and
* I don't know / I do not have a view on the origin of species and the
development of life on Earth -- preferred by 10% of British and 14% of
Canadian respondents.

The survey also investigated the influence of religious beliefs on
attitudes toward evolution, attitudes toward human evolution in
particular, and attitudes toward whether evolutionary processes
explain consciousness.

Commissioned by Newman University, the survey was conducted by YouGov
on-line among 2129 British adults between May 12 and June 6, 2017, and
among 2009 Canadian adults between May 17 and June 12, 2017; figures
were weighted for representativeness.

For the press release, visit:
https://sciencereligionspectrum.org/in-the-news/press-release-results-of-major-new-survey-on-evolution 

And for NCSE's collection of information on polls and surveys, visit:
https://ncse.com/surveypollsstudies 

WHAT'S NEW AT NCSE'S BLOG?

Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Emily Schoerning reporting on NCSE's recent round of microgrants
funding science education:
https://ncse.com/blog/2017/10/helping-students-feel-like-scientists-0018628 

For NCSE's blog, visit:
http://ncse.com/blog 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website --
http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.

--
Sincerely,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
510-601-7203
fax 510-788-7971
branch@ncse.com 
http://ncse.com 

Check out NCSE's blog:
http://ncse.com/blog 

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