Thomas Roberts   |  August 02, 2013

Battle in Kentucky brews over new science standards

As some kids get ready to go back to school later this month, a battle is brewing in Kentucky over new science standards. At issue: the standards treat evolution as fact, and address the human role in climate change. Kentuckians for Science Education's Robert Bevins joins Thomas Roberts to discuss.

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>>> battle is brewing in connecticut over new science standards. the connecticut board of education dopted these standards in june and given the public a chance to voice their opinion. opponents are taking issue that evolution as fact and talking about the human role in climate change but supporters say it's an effort to make science education more uniform across the country and challenge resistance to proven scientific theories .

>> outsiders are telling families that we must follow the rich man's elitist religion of evolution and then we no longer have what the connecticut says is the rights to worship almighty god !

>> everything is actually based on evidence. arguments from evidence are actually given priority in the next generation science standards.

>> joining me right now is robert bevins, the president of connecticut for science education . you were at last week's hearing as a supporter of the science sta'?(lc% what do you say to the critics religion could ostracize the families that this approach is not religious enough, it's an atheist approach?

>> i'm glad to be here, thomas. i have to say if i was going to say i want to tell a student something interesting, i want to tell them about a gamma ray burst that occurred 3.9 billion years ago in another galaxy, can i not say that simply because somebody at home believes that the earth is 6,000 years old? no. the reason that evolution is in there is because it's a vital part of biology and evolution is simply the uniting concept in biology. they are saying the standards call it a fact but that is never really true. the standards say that evolution occurs. the theory of evolution is what actually is used to describe it.

>> all right. but let's talk about what the residents have the options of doing here in kentucky because they have written testimonies and were submitted formally by last wednesday. will these standards be implemented without revision? i mean where does it go from here?

>> i believe it's going to be implemented without revision but it has to go before all of the committees and the legislature. they are currently meeting as joint committees. it's an odd year in kentucky . kentucky does not have full congressional sessions during even years so it goes before the joint committees. anything that might be affected, education, regulations, assessment, they all have to vote up or down. and from there, it goes to the governor and the governor will then sign it. even if the committees say that they are deficient.

>> robert , the other big point out of this and not just about evolution is about climate change and whether there is the acknowledgment of the human role played in all of that as we know as a country, kentucky is coal country. it's the third largest producer in the u.s. in 2012 , 78% jump from 2011 from exports. it awe employment talking by over 22% and prouk fell by 16%. how much of the opposition do you think is an economic one from the claims about climate change rooted in the fact that economics bear responsibility to the coal country climate there of kentucky ?

>> well, even the energy companies are split on this. exxonmobil support the science standards of the next generation. what is important is that studentsnd -- and these facts aren't left or right, they are not religious or atheist or secular. evidence is important and you have to teach what is in there. i've gone through the standards. i've gone through them page by page and looked for everything that could be used to say this is about climate change , humans cause climate change . i've found a handful of places where that is actually discussed and they all pretty much occur in high school . other than that, it's not going to be that emphasized but it's important. students need to understand this if they are going to go to college because, otherwise, a professor is going to sit there and say, oh, boy, i'm teaching remedial science again. these students just didn't get a good education. students that don't get a good science education , they grow up to be scientifically illiterate adul adults. this fight that is going on in kentucky is going to happen in 25 other states. we are just lucky we got a viral video out of it.

>> we will wait to see exactly what happens with the legislative review that goes along with these new standards. thanks, robert , for your time.

>> thank you, thomas.