Response to the Washington Post article

"Climate change is not under siege in Utah middle schools. Evolution is."

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is hungry for an issue that they can latch onto to squash challenges to the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). They know the parents in Utah, knowing the issues, have opposed the NGSS. The NCSE in one of the most fearsome defenders of the NGSS. The ironic thing is that for all their bluster they have not looked close enough to realize what Utah is proposing is the NGSS.

Let me show you what I mean. They state in their article:

What’s wrong with the standards addressing evolution?

First and foremost, they don’t mention evolution by name. Instead, they say “change in species over time.” That’s not just awkward, it’s inaccurate. Moreover, they don’t address natural selection, whereas the equivalent section of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) does. And since the standards in Utah’s “Change of Species Over Time” strand otherwise match the NGSS standards, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that natural selection was deliberately omitted.

The Utah standards "don’t mention evolution by name?" Actually, this is true. So also it is true for the equivalent section of the NGSS. Neither mentions in the performance standards the word "evolution." Instead they both use the word "evolutionary."

Here is the word "evolutionary" in the NGSS (again in the equivalent section "evolution" is not use in either version of the NGSS standard):

MS-LS4-2. Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

In the April draft of the Utah NGSS standard it was word-for-word, though renumbered as 7.2.4. In the draft that was released in October of the NGSS Utah draft, that same standard showed up as 7.5.3 worded as.

7.5.3 Construct explanations that describe the patterns of body structure similarities and differences between modern organisms and between ancient and modern organisms to infer possible evolutionary relationships.

As you can see, the word evolution is not used in either version of the NGSS standard but evolutionary is used in both. The only real difference is that the second inserts the word "possible" in front of "evolutionary," which is a slightly more scientific way of stating the same thing. This is because living things don't come with a pedigree from the AKC that traces genealogy all the way back to it's alleged parents that have now become part of a rock for verification of their assumption. But nearly everyone would look at these two statements and say that they mean 100% the same thing.

The second point of the statement made by the author of the Washington Post Article is "they don’t address natural selection." "Natural selection" is only mention in one performance standard of the NGSS middle school section that is in MS-LS4-6:

MS-LS4-6 Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.

In the April draft of the Utah NGSS standard it was word-for-word though renumbered as 7.2.3. In the October NGSS Utah draft that standard was combine with two other NGSS performance standards which are MS-LS4-4 and MS-LS1-5 stated as:

MS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.


MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

As you can see the NGSS performance standards all are about the same idea but only one uses the words "natural selection."

All of these retained NGSS performance standards are preserved in the October NGSS Utah draft as:

7.5.1 "Construct an explanation that describes how the genetic variation of traits in a population can affect some individuals' probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. Over time, specific traits may increase or decrease in populations.
Emphasize the use of proportional reasoning to support explanations of trends in changes to populations over time. Examples could include camouflage, variation of body shape, speed and agility, or drought tolerance. "

Again, it is apparent that the NGSS does not always use the words "natural selection" as they discuss the same topic either. Yet again, nearly everyone wold say that these are essentially100% talking about the same topic in essentially the same terms. It is apparent that the NCSE has their guns turned on their own "agents."

And so it goes through all of the NGSS standards with the exception of one (1). The NGSS acceptable performance standard about “sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain” was removed. All of the NGSS standards (that is all but this one) can be found in the Utah October draft either exact wording, a thesaurus translation, or in six cases, a combination of several NGSS standards as we have seen. Only a few standards are stated in a less biased way. It is likely that this performance standard that was dropped reflect more the changes that will be adopted in future versions of the NGSS and not a fundamental change from internal Utah motivations.

The retention of NGSS problematic standards persists even down to the widely discredited notion that embryological development follows the claimed evolutionary development or “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” in NGSS MS-LS4-3 or 7.5.4 in the October draft. This notion and fabricated evidence to promote the notion was erroneously advanced by Ernst Haeckel in the late 1800s. It is now and has been for some time widely recognized, by those who have studied embryological development in depth, to be completely false. For just one example, Erich Blechschmidt commented in his 1977 book The Beginnings of Human Life.

"The so-called basic law of biogenetics [Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny] is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form, making it valid in a certain percentage. It is totally wrong."

The reasons for rejecting such national standards has not diminished nor have they varied in any significance from what was offered on April draft.

Reject the adoption of the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards.


Vincent Newmeyer