Summary of the Science Standards Vote and Discussion

In short, the science standards have passed 1 (as you probably know). These science standards vary only slightly in scope and focus from the middle school Next Generation Science Standards 2 3. The NGSS, of course is the science complement to the Common Core State Standards4 which Utah adopted a few years ago5. This was done in spite of the multiple reassurance by USOE staff that they would not adopt National standards beyond Common Core.6

Though our goal to have a fundamental rewrite with a some what shifted focus was not met, there were some significant changes for the good. I think that the affect from the input of concerned citizens was felt at even a deeper level then most realize. Some people heard powerful points-of-view that they would not have heard before. I find that there is significant evidence that the input given will reverberate further as other science standards and other issues come forward.

It appears that a precedence has been set for basing the underlying framework of future science standards on the NGSS. Friday's vote was only on the 6,7 & 8th grades, but the full K-12 will be redone. However, it is doubtful that they will try to do a word-for-word copy of the NGSS like they did for the first draft of grades 6, 7, & 8th 7. Also, such future drafts will likely admit such association, unlike the ruse that was foisted on the public with the introduction of the first public draft8.

I had a number of board members comment that our efforts have made these standards much better than they would have been.

As an indication of how deeply our efforts have affected some board members, consider these several contributions to the conversation Friday from board member Stan Lockhart. I had the opportunity to meet with Stan Lockhart to discuss these standards before the vote. Stan told me, "I heard from all of these professors and star teachers" he would say, "that these are great standards, they are very excited about them, and it is just you and a few of your friends who oppose them." It did not seem that he was willing to take a fresh look at what I had to say.

Yet those thoughts that I and others shared with Stan took some root and apparently the roots sunk pretty deep. In the end, Stan still voted for the standards but he made a very excellent point in the “Board Member Message.” Stan started out his member message by saying “I thought that today I would talk to you a little bit about God.” He then proceeded to talk about how God's influence shaped his life. It was a wonderful and moving presentation. One of the points he touched on was when he was a Boy Scout and would go on camp outs. He would sit around a campfire and his scout leaders would talk about God's creations. He said at those times he “kinda got an idea that God is really there, and I believed.” Stan concluded his message with:

I talk about how I know God because today we are going to vote on science standards. There is a tendency for us forget that he [God] is there when we go down these roads. But to me God is a part of Science too – it is not divorced. Can we use the scientific method to prove that God is there? Maybe not. But he is there and he is part of them. We cannot take God out of existence with our school system – we just cannot do that – because he is there. Thank you.9

Then when it came to the discussion about the science standards, Stan offered an amendment to be inserted into the introductory section of each grade, which said:

A student will be able to distinguish between a scientific fact and a scientific theory. Articulate evidence based on observable phenomenon which both support and do not support a scientific theory. Articulate that a scientific theory is a mechanism to explain an observable phenomenon. Observe, inquire, question, formulate, and test hypothesis. Analyze data and evaluate conclusions in order to determine whether an observable phenomenon support a scientific theory and understand that a scientific theory may proved false but is always tentative in its ability to explain observable phenomenon.10

You can view the board meeting at . Stan's message begins 4 min 45 sec into the video. It is well worth the watch. Stan's proposed amendment begins at 1hr 47 min 30 sec.

Though this amendment would not have affected the actual wording of the various standards, it would have enhanced how they were interpreted. It would not have introduced religion into the science classroom. It would have created an environment where there is more scientific objectivity, and freed the science classroom from some of the dogma that we see perpetuated today11. Let the standards represent accurate and up-to-date research12. Where there is data that speaks contrary to theories, let that data also be heard13. The heart of science progress is looking at the emerging data and listening to both sides of the debate then conducting experiments that would falsify one side or the other. When you hear claims that there is a scientific consensus on a particular theory you are not listening to a scientific argument. There are significant arguments and scientist that challenge these controversial theories14. There was much ado about the way the standards promoted modeling scientific principles. However, when it comes to modeling objectivity and investigating data for and against a scientific theory, especially when it comes to politicized and controversial topics like Darwinian evolution and Global Warming and such, these standards and for that matter the popularized science of our day has become blind in recognition of the science that powerfully speaks to the contrary15 16.

Unfortunately the amendment did not pass. Board members voting for Stan Lockhart's amendment were, Joel Wright, Jeff Moss, Jenifer Johnson, Laura Belnap, but it was not enough. Perhaps it might have passed with a little more work with other board members. The amendment embodied, in thought, precisely what we were working for.

The final vote on the Science Standards was 11 to 4 with Joel Wright, Jeff Moss, Laura Belnap, and Jenifer Johnson, voting against the adoption of the standards.

Thanks for all of your help. As future science standards are introduced, I trust that the foundation of our work will pay some dividends in a better character of future standards from their inception. I also look forward to working with you to make these future drafts of the science standards the best we can.


Vincent Newmeyer

2See “Short Summary of Changes Made to the Proposed Science Standards for Utah”

3See also “Utah SEEd” Standards October 2015 Draft and NGSS Side-by-Side comparison of grades 6 – 8

4See “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???”

5See Common Core State Standards Initiative map at

6See Utah's Deceptive Science Standards Adoption

7See “Utah “SEEd” Standards April 2015 Draft and NGSS Side-by-Side comparison of grades 6 – 8

8See Utah Science Standards Review Meeting - May 19, 2015

9 Stan's “Board Member Message begins 4 min 45 sec into the video

10 Stan's proposed amendment begins at 1hr 47 min 30 sec.

11See “The Faith that is Taught in Our Public Schools and Universities”

12These standards are not up-to-date with various aspects of science. Just one example: Haeckel's “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” This concept has been discredited for many years by multiple independent researchers, yet we see that concept in the newly passed standard 7.5.4. For verification we can turn to Professor Spicer TEDx talk on the theory of recapitulation. Professor Spicer believes in evolution, that is he believes in the common ancestry of all life, and that the complexity and diversity of life arose from undirected chemical reaction and natural selection. Not withstanding his belief he demonstrates that the proof of evolution is not found in the development of embryos (the recapitulation theory). See Professor Spicer's TEDx talk at . See also discussion of 7.5.4 at for more information.

13For example see “The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution”

14See “Educated Intelligent People Don't Doubt Darwin Right?”

15For some examples of data that speaks contrary to Global Warming the educational and entertaining resource GLOBAL WARMING TEST -- Test your knowledge and common sense in this simple 10-question test.

16For a sample of data that speak contrary to Darwinian evolution see “The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution”