In a recent poll, 87% of California voters who responded said they support placing “greater emphasis on integrating science as part of the entire public school curriculum,” and 85% said they think it’s “very important” or “somewhat important” for schools to put a greater emphasis on computer programming and coding, EdSource reports.
However, 82% of respondents had never heard of the Next Generation Science standards that were adopted by California in 2013, alongside 17 other states and the District of Columbia.
Once voters were informed about the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards, 68% of California voters who responded supported them.
The Common Core standards, which focus primarily on English Language Arts and math education, have received a lot of press since their introduction in 2010. However, the Next Generation Science Standards, which were introduced in 2013, have received far less attention and now face somewhat of a public relations problem as they are relatively unknown, even in the states that have adopted them.
The Next Generation Science Standards encourage critical thinking more than rote memorization, and promote hands-on learning and classroom-based experiments. However, they also contain some controversial elements such as global warming and evolution, which cause some states to reject them in their present form. The debate seems to be more about the language used to teach the concepts more than the concepts themselves. While some people are comfortable with these concepts being discussed as theories, they are less comfortable with them promoted as established facts, especially when some evolutionary concepts in particular fly in the face of some religious beliefs.
However, most people understand that science, computer technology and other STEM courses are increasingly relevant to the modern workforce and need to be taught more efficiently in schools. Computer education, in particular, is viewed as necessary because technology is present in almost every workplace situation. The digital world is here to stay, and learning to function in it is becoming a matter of survival.