Maine's problematic proposed revisions to science standards rejected

Maine's statehouse.

The proposal to revise Maine's science standards to incorporate teaching about genocide, eugenics, and the Holocaust was rejected by the House of Representatives on March 28, 2024, and the Senate on April 1, 2024, following the unanimous recommendation of the House Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs issued on March 7, 2024.

As NCSE previously reported, the proposed revisions to middle school standards about evolution and heredity claim, among other things, that misinterpretation of "fossil observations" and of "the ideas of natural selection and artificial selection" produced the "false idea of human hierarchies and racial inequality," leading to atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the mistreatment of indigenous people in Maine.

Explaining the proposed revisions to the Associated Press (December 4, 2023), a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Education cited a recently enacted law requiring the incorporation of African American studies, Maine Native American history, and the history of genocide in instruction, although the law itself appears to specify neither the subjects nor the grades in which such instruction is required.

Among those expressing concerns with the proposed revisions were the Maine Science Teachers Association, whose president Tonya Prentice told CNN (December 14, 2023) that "civics and social studies programming are better suited to delivering the content in question," and Alison Riley Miller of Bowdoin College, who with Joseph L. Graves Jr., a member of NCSE's board of directors, criticized them in the Portland Press-Herald (January 28, 2024).

At its March 7, 2024, meeting, the House Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs amended the bill (Legislative Document 2182 / House Paper 1397) to adopt the revisions by inserting "not" before "authorized" in the section discussing the science standards and then voted 12-0 to recommend the amended bill to the legislature.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.