The controversy over whether to adopt Common Core educational standards in Florida schools points to a number of issues related to religious, economic and ideological clashes occurring in our state and nation. Some motivation to prevent the implementation of the Common Core curriculum reflects sincere reservations of parents and educators.
But other opponents harbor ulterior motives. They want to inhibit the teaching of scientific facts about evolution and natural earth sciences and substitute religious sectarian beliefs about the history and evolution of the planet with concepts like creationism and intelligent design.
On the other hand, the rejection of global warming data by some members of the Republican Party is linked to their reluctance to share and accept responsibility for the necessary remedial actions that will devolve on corporations, affecting profits. Accurate scientific teaching also poses a threat to their position.
One of the great strengths of our society is our freedom to debate such issues. But the time for debating has passed.
Modern science acknowledges the veracity of evolution. It lies at the very foundation of biological science and has illuminated our scientific and social perspectives, enriching our lives through understanding our past and lighting the way to our genomic future. And scientists around the world have issued numerous reports documenting the disadvantageous effects of man-made global warming. Recent estimates predict a rise in oceanic water levels in this century between 3 to 6 feet.
Writing in the October issue of Scientific American, Eugenie Scott and Minda Berbeco of the National Center for Science Education note that the Next Generation Science Standards that will be part of the Common Core were developed by a consortium of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 states, and the nonprofit firm Achieve.
Work began on the Common Core standards in 2010 and has involved 45 states, the District of Columbia and four territories as well as the National Governors' Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The federal government was not involved in the development of the standards. Local teachers, principals and superintendents had primary responsibility for the democratic process.
The implications of rejecting the accumulated scientific knowledge in the Common Core will be detrimental for students and catastrophic for Florida. Undermining the process at this time is unconscionable and foolhardy — unbecoming the office of the governor and shortchanging the residents of this state.
H. Roy Kaplan, an educator for more than 40 years, was named a Hero of Education by the U.S. Department of Education for his work in Tampa Bay schools. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.