By Rebecca Klein
Supporters and opponents of the Next Generation Science Standards sparred during hearings in Kentucky last week, as critics took issue with the standards’ teaching of evolution and climate change.
The new standards were developed with input from officials in 26 states –- including Kentucky –- and are part of an effort to make science curricula more uniform across the country. While supporters feel the standards will help beat back scientific ignorance, some religious groups take issue because the standards treat evolution as fact and talk about the human role in climate change.
The Kentucky Board of Education adopted the standards in June and held hearings to get public feedback on the standards last week before they were presented to the state legislature for official approval.
Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister, is one of the opponents who spoke to the board about why the standards should not be adopted, according to The Courier-Journal. “Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Singleton said. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”
Another opponent, Dena Stewart-Gore, suggested that the standards will make religious students feel ostracized. “The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,” she said, per the The Courier-Journal. “We are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.”
Supporters of the standards contended that opponents’ fears are unfounded and that the standards’ curriculum is based on evidence.
A handful of states including Kansas, Maryland and Vermont have already adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. The Kentucky Board of Education will be accepting written testimonies regarding the standards until July 31.