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PED Holds Hearing On Controversial Science Standards

Ed Williams/KUNM
High school student Quentin Gaul speaks against proposed changes to New Mexico's science standards at PED's public hearing.

The Public Education Department is proposing to make language on climate change and evolution less specific in New Mexico’s classrooms.

The state held its only public hearing on the controversial changes to science standards Monday morning.

PED is considering changing the phrase “rise in global temperatures” to “fluctuations” in temperature and replacing the word “evolution” with “biological diversity,” among other things.

PED says this would give teachers more flexibility. But the proposals have come under fire from top scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and major New Mexico school districts, who say they run counter to established science.

Some parents and students have protested the changes too.

"I’m just very disappointed in the state of New Mexico," said Quentin Gaul, a student at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in Albuquerque who was at Monday’s public hearing. "As a student, I feel like they don’t actually care if I get a good education. They just seem to be avoiding talking about controversial issues, even though they shouldn’t be controversial issues."

PED hasn’t said when it will decide whether to adopt the new standards.


KUNM's Public Health New Mexico Project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation. Find more at www.publichealthnm.org.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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