Arizona leaders adopt new history, science standards

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Public schools in Arizona will be making huge changes to the way students are taught science and social studies.

The curriculum hasn't been updated since 2004. Supporters of the new curriculum say Arizona is behind the rest of the country when it comes to incorporating the latest science, and on Monday, the State Board of Education approved a plan to update science standards that were created by Arizona science teachers.

The vote left the state's Superintendent for Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, on the losing end.

"I move that the Arizona State Board of Education adopt the Hillsdale School Standards," said Douglas, referring to a set science standards developed by a conservative Christian college.

Douglas, however, was alone in wanting to adopt the Hillsdale School Standards, as no one on the board supported her motion. Instead, the board voting 6-4 to pass the science standards developed by the Arizona Science Teachers Association. They worked on the curriculum for 2.5 years.

"We dont need a pre-canned set of standards that comes from somewhere else," said retired elementary school teacher Elizabeth Hobson.

More than two dozen people, including teachers, parents, and students, voiced their opposition to Douglas' proposal. Non-Christian residents worried students would not learn about world religions, and many Sikhs spoke out.

"I like to learn about different people, and I think people like to learn about me," said Anaik Gumer.

One of the biggest changes is how science is taught. Students will instead begin with questions and experiments on topics, before they read their textbooks.

"It is no longer rote memory. More conceptual learningm" said Barabra Reinert, Science Coordinator for the Scottsdale Unified School District. "They actually make a claim, they investigate evidence to that claim, then use academic vocabulary and concept to create reasoning."

The new science and social studies curriculum will also include economics, government, and personal finance.