The problem is that if the science standards are passed, Kentucky students won't know what a backwater is.
In the legislative committee meeting in which the standards were rejected, Bevins gave testimony asserting that my word counts were incorrect when I asserted, in my Lexington Herald-Leader article, that climate science terms were used 130 times while other terms one would expect to be more common in a set of science standards were far fewer--or absent altogether.
I made some notes while Bevins was speaking, just before I gave may own testimony on Bevins' attempted refutation of my argument. Then, I discovered his more extensive response to my arguments on the website of the group he heads, Kentuckians for Science Education.
Here is what he says in the post on his site responding to my arguments: "An examination of the Next Generation Science Standards by word count and context regarding claims of excessive focus on climate change." He then goes on to give his own findings about what he found in the NGSS document.
First problem: Bevins misrepresents the document I claimed to have analyed
The first thing to note about his response is that he completely misrepresents what I claimed. He says I claimed to have done a word search on the Next Generation Science Standards document: "Mr Cothran’s initial analysis of the NGSS document," he says, "vastly overestimates the importance of anthropogenic climate change in the NGSS document, especially in elementary and middle school grades."
Mr. Bevin's assertion is simply false.
I said very specifically in my op-ed that I did the word search on the Kentucky Core Academic Standards document, which is the actual document in question in this debate. Here are my exact words: "If you do a simple word search through the Kentucky Core Academic Standards document, the problem becomes apparent ..." [Emphasis added]
In other words, Bevins' entire attempted refutation is based on a mistaken understanding of the document at issue.
Now obviously the Kentucky Core Academic Standards includes the Next Generation Science Standards as well as a number of other subject areas. In addition, I have not done a careful comparison between the science sections Kentucky standards document and the NGSS document. I suspect they are substantially the same, although Kentucky Department of Education officials said at the legislative meeting last Wednesday that they had made some modifications which sound minor.
In any case, I never claimed to have done any kind of content analysis on the Next Generation Science Standards document itself, as Bevins claims, and therefore the word counts he claims as corrections of my word counts are irrelevant.
He also asserted that my word count involved terms related to climate change and that, in fact, the terms I found in my word search were related to climate science in general, but not climate change in particular. What I in fact said was that these were terms related to climate science.
Again, Bevins misrepresents what I said. Here is what I said: "If we had only Kentucky's science standards to go by, we would have to conclude that climate and weather issues are more important than gravity, photosynthesis, electricity, genetics, radiation and quantum mechanics." [Emphasis added] I then said, very specifically, exactly which terms I was counting: "...the terms "climate," "weather" and "global warming" are together mentioned over 130 times."
I did say, prior to those specific claims, that there was "an avalanche of terms related to climate change." I said that because my assumption was that the reason for having all of those climate and weather related terms in the standards was because of the recent interest in climate change. In other words, the prevalence of climate science terminology was my evidence for an emphasis on climate change in the standards.
Now I suppose someone could argue with my assumption that the reason for the inclusion of all the climate science emphasis in the standards is not due to the interest in climate change (and Bevins tries to do this), but that would be rather hard to believe. It would also not square with the responses by standards supporters to my argument, which was not that I was wrong about the emphasis on climate change, but rather that the standards were, in fact, correct in emphasizing it (through an emphasis on climate science). Just see the two responses that appeared to my article in the Herald Leader two weeks later.
In any case, my claims about the data itself had to do specifically and explicitly with climate science terminology.
So the two chief assumptions of Bevins refutation are mistaken.
And in regard to his claim that Kentucky will be seen as a backwater if it doesn't pass the standards, so what? We should mis-educate our children in order not to look bad?