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New Jersey May Be Next State to Adopt Common Science Standards

It's been a while since we've updated readers on states adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, so here's the latest from what I can tell: New Jersey may well be the next to adopt.

Michael Heinz, the science coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Education, told me by phone that he's anticipating adoption on July 10 at the state board meeting. However, he noted, "you never know." The department will be conducting public hearings and accepting feedback until June 20, and then will make recommendations to the state board of education. 

So what could possibly hold up adoption?

"External political influence that has an issue with human-induced climate change or evolution," he said. "Those are really the only two things."

The common science standards state that human activities are "major factors" in global warming and that "common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence." In fact, evolution is featured in the new standards as a critical concept for understanding the life sciences. 

That said, opponents on the basis of those factors "haven't come out of the woodwork yet [in New Jersey]," Heinz told me. "And our current standards have both those ideas in them already."

In a previous post, I questioned whether pushback to the Next Generation Science Standards is as widespread as some media outlets have intimated, or whether the opinions of a vocal few have simply been overblown.

A recent article from online news service NJ Spotlight said the state board seems enthusiastic about the new standards and that educators have known "the shift has been coming for a few years."

So far, 11 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted the science standards. 

Follow @LianaHeitin for the latest on STEM curriculum and instruction. 

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