Mother Jones earlier reported that the state of New Mexico had written science standards intended to placate climate change deniers and creationists. The state took modern science out of the science curriculum

Now, Mother Jones reports with satisfaction that the state was embarrassed by the outcry against its cave-in to special interests and has restored science to the science curriculum.

Andy Kroll writes:

The whole saga began last month when, as Mother Jones first reported, the state’s Public Education Department unveiled a set of draft standards for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education spanning grades K-12. New Mexico’s proposal largely followed the Next Generation Science Standards, a highly regarded model for teaching STEM that has been adopted by 18 states and the District of Columbia. But the state also made several baffling changes of its own, as we explained:

[T]he draft released by New Mexico’s education officials changes the language of a number of NGSS guidelines, downplaying the rise in global temperatures, striking references to human activity as the primary cause of climate change, and cutting one mention of evolution while weakening others. The standards would even remove a reference to the scientifically agreed-upon age of the Earth—nearly 4.6 billion years. (Young Earth creationists use various passages in the Bible to argue that the planet is only a few thousand years old.)

“These changes are evidently intended to placate creationists and climate change deniers,” says Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit group that defends the teaching of climate change, evolution, and other scientific-backed subjects in the classroom. The proposed changes, Branch added, “would dumb down New Mexico’s science education.”

A backlash ensued, with science experts, teachers, and others who were stunned by the state’s anti-science proposals voicing their displeasure with state education officials. New Mexico’s two US senators, both Democrats, wrote that they were “disturbed” by the proposed changes.

Ruszkowski, the education secretary, initially responded to critics by saying that his agency had crafted the proposed science standards—including the ones omitting evolution, human-caused global warming, and the age of the Earth—after hearing from “business groups, civic groups, teacher groups, superintendents.” (He declined to name those who helped shape the standards.) The process that went into developing the controversial standards, he added, was “how PED does business.”

However, in an interview with Mother Jones, a former PED official who helped develop the science standards contradicted Ruszkowski’s account. Lesley Galyas, who worked for four years as PED’s math and science bureau chief, said “one or two people” working “behind closed doors” had politicized New Mexico’s science standards. “They were really worried about creationists and the oil companies,” she said. In the end, she quit her job at the agency in protest of the changes sought by her bosses.

Outrage worked. The state reversed course. Read the article and feel some satisfaction in knowing that the voice of the public makes a difference.