Kentucky's new science standards come with controversy
LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- As early as next month, the state's school districts could begin training teachers on a new set of controversial science standards that supporters argue will better prepare students for college, but that opponents claim will place undo emphasis on climate change and evolution.
The Next Generation Science Standards, adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education this summer, could be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year.
But they're could be a legislative road block waiting in the wings. After a legislative panel rejected the new standards this week, Gov. Steve Beshear asserted his executive authority -- claiming he will implement them anyway.
That has led to talk that lawmakers could create some legislation when they return in January as part of an effort to end that plan.
"They've been controversial for both sides," said Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation, a conservative lobbying group opposed to the Next Generation Science Standards.
"We are opposed to the implementation of them because they spend an inordinate amount of time some theoretical issues on climate science and evolution at the expense of basic science," Cothran said.
Dr. Robert Bivens, President of Kentuckians for Science Education, spoke to WDRB News by video call from Lexington -- and says the standards are meant to better prepare students for college.
"A lot of people have said that physics or chemistry aren't actually in these standards, that's simply not true. All you have to do is Google new science standards -- and you will find that it is all there," Bivens said.
Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens, who represents the state's largest school district, released a written statement in support of the move.
It reads: "Jefferson County Board of Education and Jefferson County Public Schools support the full implementation of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, including those in science. These rigorous standards will help ensure our students graduate prepared for college or career and are able to compete in a global marketplace. We believe in setting high expectations for all students and know these standards support that goal
Bivens claims the new science standards are intended to better prepare students.
"We're not trying to make believers , we are not trying to convert people. If you don't understand evolution, you don't necessarily understand why you need to take antibiotics. Understanding evolution is vital to modern medicine," Bivens said.
Cothran claims Gov. Beshear's "ignored the process" of public input through his use of his executive authority to implement the new science standards. Cothran claims he plans to have talks with lawmakers to come up with legislation to block the implementation. Lawmakers return to Frankfort in January.