Remarks to the Kentucky Board of Education on Next Generation Science Standards

My name is Robert Bevins, and I received my PhD in Toxicology from UK, and am President of Kentuckians for Science Education

I come here to speak for the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards. I am an educator, a scientist, a lifelong Kentuckian and an owner of coal and natural gas rights in East Kentucky. I represent parents and grandparents, teachers at every level of education, doctors, business owners and members of multiple faith communities who share our interest that Kentucky’s kids have the best education in science and math, and I feel that adoption of the NGSS offers that.

The standards will offer students in Kentucky an improved foundation for learning about the STEM fields, which will improve their chances for scholarships, their career options, and will have the potential to help attract high tech industries to Kentucky.

Two potential subjects that will draw public attention are evolution and climate change. These two subjects are politically controversial, but are not scientifically controversial. They are unifying concepts in science that draw on multiple fields to support a conclusion. This is precisely why they have been selected for themes within the standards. They allow vertical integration of knowledge, as students learn how different disciplines support each other, and can carry that information to their next year of information.

This makes them vital to properly teaching science, and are each backed by more than 150 years of rigorous experimentation, and stand only because no alternate theory better explain the world around us, and no evidence has been found to disproved them.

While some Kentuckians object to evolution on religious grounds, many find the two to be compatible. Religious belief should not be reason for weakening science standards. Regardless, parents still control the moral and religious education of their children.

The beauty of science is that no matter what your religious background, the same result will come from honest inquiry. In fact, if all science were forgotten tomorrow, our knowledge of the universe would eventually mirror what we know today.

There are both economic and environmental reasons that make climate science important to Kentucky’s students and their future. An understanding of climate science is important for many Kentucky industries, for example, agriculture and tourism. Invasive plant and animal species threaten our rivers and streams, while tropical diseases that will harm the horse industry move north. Our future farmers, veterinarians and outdoor sportsmen will need to understand how climate affects them.

As an owner of mineral rights, I offer one of the most important lessons that science has to offer. The evidence does not lie, and the results we get from science aren’t always the ones we want, but we should accept them as they are.

Kentucky has a strong history in science, with Thomas Hunt Morgan discovering many of the principles of modern genetics. Kentucky is also home to one of America’s first paleontological sites, Big Bone Lick.

Kentucky has the potential to be a leader in science, but only with a foundation that supports the student.

I urge the Board to adopt the NGSS as they are written, and send them on to the legislature for integration into the education system of the Commonwealth.

June 5, 2013

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About Robert Bevins

I am a toxicologist/cell biologist, and am preparing a downloadable study guide for biology students, and in the past have taught at Georgetown College as both part time and full time faculty. The views expressed here are my own.
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2 Responses to Remarks to the Kentucky Board of Education on Next Generation Science Standards

  1. Dan Phelps says:

    Fantastic job! (I was there). My remarks were too brief and I “flew by the seat of my pants” so to speak.

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