Does knowing how to play chess help you solve a problem with your car? Or does knowing how your car works mean you can automatically solve a chess problem. To anyone with common sense, the answer is "no." You have to both know how to play chess and how a car works to solve those problems.
But the education school folks who control national education policy in this country do not believe that. And the "Next Generation" science core curriculum pushes less science, not more.
In June, the National Research Council review panel (with very few representatives from the science community) turned over their recommended "framework" to Achieve, Inc., one of two education reform organizations currently receiving the $350 million from the USDE to develop assessments for the language and math Common Core.
Achieve will add details to this framework, but they are clear they do not intend to cover the ever-growing breadth of science concepts that are essential to being a good citizen, voter or patient.
The dead hand of education schools was obvious in the earlier 1996 National Science Education Standards also developed under the NRC. Accusing American teachers of teaching science that is "a mile wide and an inch deep," the NSES eliminated human anatomy and physiology, botany, zoology and microbiology from the secondary biology curriculum. In 2005, during our last round of Kansas science education standards changes, some pesky evolution-doubting wording was taken out, but the Kansas Science Standards were also aligned with the NSES and eliminated that vital content as well.
Fortunately, science was not part of NCLB high-stakes testing and most Kansas biology teachers could continue to teach the fuller concepts without the curriculum alignment forced on language and math teachers to make AYP. University teacher training programs in Kansas have mostly kept their biology teacher course requirements in these fields. But if this "Next Generation" national curriculum continues down its announced track, and if the same pressures to teach-to-the-test are applied that we have endured for language and math, "less science, not more" will be enforced with a vengeance.
The new science framework is loaded with weasel words that attempt to cover it inadequacies. Students will "actively engage in science practices in order to deepen their understanding of core ideas in science over multiple years of school." They have a "new vision" centering around teaching only the "key ideas" with "anchor points" and "grade bands."
The framework clearly expresses the education school views that there is so much science that we might as well give up and look it up online: "The continuing expansion of scientific knowledge makes it impossible to teach all the ideas related to a given discipline in exhaustive detail during the K-12 years.... But given the cornucopia of information available today virtually at a touch—people live, after all, in an information age—an important role of science education is not to teach ‘all the facts’ but rather to prepare students with sufficient core knowledge so that they can later acquire additional information on their own."
Information is not knowledge for the same reason that librarians are not teachers. People cannot look up the solution to an automotive problem when they do not know anything about how a car works, nor understand the solution should they accidently get it. Same for human anatomy, animals, diseases, etc.
While the rest of the world is moving ahead teaching more science, not less, only the United States continues to look to the education schools rather than scientists and water down our inadequate science teaching even more.
The State Board of Education still has the option to take back control of Kansas science education and ditch this anemic national science curriculum. But the train is leaving the station with Kansas on board.