NGSS triumphs in Kentucky

On September 11, 2013, Kentucky's governor Steve Beshear announced that he "plans to implement the new Kentucky Next Generation Standards under his own authority," as the Lexington Herald-Leader (September 11, 2013) reports. The announcement follows on the heels of the Kentucky legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee 5-1 vote that the standards are deficient. As NCSE previously reported, the adoption of the NGSS was recommended by the state department of education and the state board of education, as well as Kentuckians for Science Education, the Kentucky Paleontological Society, the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, and the Kentucky Science Teachers Association.

The Herald-Leader quoted a deputy press secretary for the governor as saying that Beshear "views these standards as a critical component in preparing Kentuckians for college and the workforce. Therefore, as provided by law, he will implement the regulations notwithstanding the finding of deficiency." In a September 11, 2013, press release issued by the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky's education commissioner Terry Holliday praised (PDF) Beshear's decision, saying, "We appreciate the Governor's courage and wisdom in executing his legal authority to implement the Kentucky Core Academic Standards in science." But the Kentucky General Assembly could override his decision when it reconvenes in January 2014.

NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, who taught physical anthropology at the University of Kentucky and helped to fight creationist attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution in Lexington during the early 1980s, also applauded Beshear's decision. "It's a good day for science education in the Bluegrass State," she said. "There's no doubt that the Next Generation Science Standards are a tremendous improvement on Kentucky's existing state science standards, especially when it comes to evolution and climate change. Kentucky's schoolchildren deserve to learn about these topics in a way consistent with the consensus of the scientific community — and with the NGSS in place, they'll have a fighting chance to do so."