Urgent: Comments on new Texas science standards are now being accepted
The Texas Education Agency is now accepting comments on the proposed Texas science standards (Science TEKS, i.e., Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). The most important and controversial standards are the high school (9-12) science standards. The following message was broadcast by TEA assistant science director Irene Pickhardt:
Please note that our Science TEKS Review Committees will meet at the end of October and will have an opportunity to begin reviewing comments.
-- so time's a-wasting. The review of the Science TEKS will continue into next year, but we supporters of the "strengths and weaknesses" language are already behind the eight ball because the language has been omitted from the proposed high-school biology standards. If I had known that the committees would start reviewing comments so soon, I would have inquired sooner about how to send in comments. Comments in favor of restoring the "strengths and weaknesses" language to Section 3(A) of the high school biology standards -- as well as the high-school standards for other scientific fields where this language was dropped -- are especially badly needed.
Ignore the instructions on how to submit the high-school science PDF comment form. I tried to follow the instructions and they did not work. Per the instructions, I saved the comment form to my hard-drive ( I could save it only as a PDF file ), filled it in, and then tried to email the filled-in form as an attachment but could not -- I could email the comment form only as an empty form. Whoever prepared this PDF comment form obviously didn't know what (s)he was doing. The instructions say, "These forms have been posted for your convenience (haha). Feedback may be submitted in any format." I am just going to submit my comments in my default email format, an HTML format. However, I recommend that you try to submit the same information requested on the comment form.
Email the comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are my recommendations for the emails (these are not official instructions, but I am trying to follow the instructions given) --
(1) Show -- in both the subject line (that top window showing the subject that will appear in the recipient's in-box) and at the top of the email contents -- the name of the committee (or course or science field) to which the email is addressed. Choose only one committee (or course or field) per email. The high-school science standards are divided up into the following fields: IPC (integrated physics and chemistry), Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Systems, Aquatic Science, Astronomy, Earth and Space Science, Engineering Design. As I pointed out, there are no overall or core standards, and the different standards for the individual fields have a lot of duplication and mutual contradictions & inconsistencies. I might not send comments to all the committees. A big problem is that standards for all of the scientific fields are different and so the comments may need to be individualized for each field -- maybe I will later post my individualized comments. I will definitely send comments to the biology, chemistry, and astronomy committees (I will thank the latter two committees for retaining the "strengths and weaknesses" language). BTW, the current high-school science standards have the same format as the proposed standards: divided up into individual disciplines with no core or overall standards.
(2) Show participant type: Teacher, Administrator, Parent, Student, University/College Staff, Business/Industry Representative, Community Member (Texas resident ?), and "Other." Might be a good idea to show the participant type on the subject line as well as at the top of the email contents.
(3) Since you won't be using the high-school comment form, you should note in both the subject line and the email contents that you are commenting on the high-school standards. So my subject line and top line of my email contents might look like the following: "High-school Science TEKS comments. Course: Biology. Participant type: Other"
(4) As shown on the high school comment form, comments are divided into three categories -- you should identify the categories of your comments:
i. -- Comments on the introduction for each course (section (b) on the proposed TEKS for each course). When commenting, I recommend identifying sections by number.
ii. -- Comments on Knowledge and Skills (KS) statements and Student Expectations (SE) (section (c) on the proposed TEKS for each course). It is not clear how the KS and SE statements are distinguished. It appears that the KS statements have just the heading numbers (e.g., KS(3)) and the SE statements have letters (e.g., SE(3A)). So the "strengths and weakness" language would either appear in the SE(3A) statement (chemistry and astronomy only) or not appear in the SE(3A) statement (the rest of the courses including biology). Anyway, when commenting on the "strengths and weaknesses" language, you won't really need to identify the section because the committee members will know exactly what you are talking about.
iii. -- General comments about the whole proposed high-school science TEKS. If you are really pressed for time, it is probably best to just make some general comments, as there are some general issues that apply to all of the different courses.
A description of the proposed high-school Science TEKS is here and my proposed comments are here. I have added a new proposal: reword the "strengths and weaknesses" language to say "scientific strengths and scientific and pseudoscientific weaknesses," which should exclude creationism and supernaturalism because those things do not pretend to be scientific.
Labels: Texas controversy