Kansas adopts the NGSS

The Kansas state board of education voted 8-2 to accept the Next Generation Science Standards on June 11, 2013, despite protests over their treatment of evolution and climate change as central scientific topics. According to the Lawrence Journal-World (June 11, 2013), Ken Willard, a member of the board, complained in a lengthy prepared statement that "both evolution and human-caused climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically," adding that the standards amount to "little more than indoctrination in political correctness." Willard, along with John Bacon, voted against the adoption.

But science educators at the meeting spoke in support of the NGSS. Julie Schwarting, president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers, was quoted in the Journal-World as saying, "When I first read the NGSS, I was very excited to see it was just a clear description of what I've been striving toward for the past 10 years." Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, a physics teacher who also serves as vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, was quoted by the Associated Press (June 11, 2013) as saying that with the NGSS, "I can concentrate on teaching processes — teaching kids how to think like scientists."

A petition signed by over 2500 Kansans organized by Climate Parents urged the adoption of the NGSS particularly because of its treatment of climate change, telling the board, "Our students deserve a 21st[-]century science education, and that includes learning about climate change." After the board's vote, Fred Heeren, who presented the Climate Parents petition to the board, told the Associated Press, "Climatology and climate change should be prioritized because of the condition of the world and because of our contribution to a changing climate."

The NGSS, as NCSE's Mark McCaffrey explained at LiveScience (April 5, 2013), are a new set of state science standards based on the National Research Council's A Framework for K-12 Science Education and developed by a consortium including twenty-six states. When they were released in their final version, The New York Times (April 9, 2013) observed, "The climate and evolution standards are just two aspects of a set of guidelines containing hundreds of new ideas on how to teach science. But they have already drawn hostile commentary from conservative groups critical of mainstream scientific thinking."

Kansas is the second state to adopt the NGSS, following Rhode Island, which adopted the NGSS on May 23, 2013, according to Education Week's Curriculum Matters blog (May 24, 2013), with no apparent controversy. Kentucky's state board of education unanimously voted to accept the NGSS on June 5, 2013. Although there were complaints about the NGSS's treatment of evolution and climate change in Kentucky, none were aired at the board's meeting. The adoption still needs to be approved by committees in the state legislature, according to the Curriculum Matters blog (June 12, 2013).