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Science and Innovations

Arizona Adopts New K-12 Standards for Science, History

Michael Anderson / WikiCommons

Religion, and how it’s taught in public schools, was at the heart of a controversy at the Arizona State Board of Education meeting yesterday. The board voted on a new set of science, history, and social science standards for K through 12 education. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The Board voted 6 to 4 to adopt the standards which Arizona educators have been developing over the past two years.

The approved science standards include language about evolution and climate change, which had been eliminated by the Department of Education earlier this spring, prompting public outcry.

The Arizona Science Teachers Association backs the newly adopted standards.  Sara Torres is the association’s executive director. She says, “The draft science standards with the highlighted recommendations that are being presented today are well-designed by Arizona teachers and science content professionals.”

An alternative set of standards that was rejected by the Board raised concerns at yesterday’s meeting. Those standards were developed by a private Christian college in Michigan, and were proposed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. Critics said that choice would have limited the history of world religions.

Eldred Spain represents the Arizona Interfaith Council. He says, “Our objective is to get everybody treated equally, so I would say that our recommendation is to reject anything which is exclusionary.”

The new standards will be phased in over the next few years.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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