From an article in Reason.com: “Bill Nye the Science Guy (“He’s not our Science Guy!” the Reason audience retorts) has waded into the Common Core debate. Per usual, he thinks those who disagree with him are—almost by definition—anti-science.
After conceding one criticism of the national education standards—that they could shackle teachers and make learning boring—Bill Nye opines that much of the opposition to Common Core comes from Creationists who don’t want evolution being taught in schools. As he says in his video:
The concern is, and I understand this, you would keep students from having fun and getting excited about anything. But the other reason people seem to, my perception of what people don’t like about Core curricula, is it forces them to learn standard stuff when they could be teaching their kids things that are inconsistent with science. I’m talking about people who want to teach Creationism instead of biology and that’s just bad.
Since Bill Nye doesn’t mention any of the other criticisms against Common Core, he implies by omission that this is it: Core opponents are just evolution deniers in disguise.
(To clarify, the Common Core tackles math and English, not science. The national science standards technically were published under a different title, the Next Generation Science Standards, though many of the same people were involved. NGSS has received a lukewarm response, even from some groups that vigorously support Common Core.)
Creationist hostility to evolution might be motivating some people to oppose national standards. The science standards also establish that human action is a major contributing factor to climate change, and I’m sure that (more legitimately debatable) point also fuels some Core opposition.
But there are many, many other reasons people oppose Common Core. Chiefly: There is very little evidence that these standards will improve schools. In fact, a comprehensive Brookings Institution study released earlier this year found that states were better off using standards that didn’t resemble Common Core at all.
But even if the Common Core was shown to slightly boost academic achievements, it would not necessarily be worth implementing, given the massive financial cost of retraining teachers, buying new instructional materials, and upgrading schools’ technological capabilities to meet standardized testing requirements.
The Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey, a critic of the standards, told me that there is plenty to dislike about national education standardization.
“For a scientist, Bill Nye provided a very unscientific analysis of core curriculum critiques,” he told Reason. “There are many who have read the research and seen that centralized standards have little if any positive effect on outcomes; who are content experts and think standards like the Common Core are highly problematic; who realize that innovation requires people being able to try new and different things rather than being forced into one model; who know that different children learn things at different rates; who don’t like the politicization of education that necessarily accompanies government standards-making; and so on.”
It seems to me that Bill Nye is projecting his own feud with Creationists onto a different policy debate. Watch his video below.
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