Who is mucking up science education?


(Subhankar Banerjee/ AP)

Who is mucking up science education? Scientists or politicians?

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead’s education policy adviser, Mary Kay Hill, has sent a letter to John Friedrich, senior campaigner for Climate Parents, a group dedicated to preserving the Earth’s changing climate, saying that Mead has been concerned that scientists are mucking around with science education. The scientists, it seems to Mead (R), are making political conclusions — not observations based on overwhelming research — when they say that human activity is changing Earth’s climate.

In March, Wyoming’s legislature blocked the Next Generation Science Standards, an initiative aimed at boosting science education across the country, over its inclusion of climate change. The standards were developed over years in a process that involved the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, with input from about half of the states. Ten states have adopted the standards so far.

This month, the Wyoming State Board of Education, lobbied by the governor’s staff, deferred a decision on what to do about the Next Generation Science Standards, sending the issue back to the Science Standards Revision Committee, which has already recommended adoption not once but twice. While the politicians dither, nearly one-third of the school districts in the state have already started implementing the Next Generation standards.

Friedrich contacted Mead’s office about the issue and received the following letter from Hill, who talks about the importance of strong science standards but doesn’t seem to see any irony in the role that climate change deniers play in undermining science education.

Not so incidentally, Wyoming ranks first  among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production.

Wyoming state Rep. Matt Teeters (R), who inserted the provision into the budget legislation that stopped funding for the standards, told the Casper Star Tribune:

“[The standards] handle global warming as settled science. There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.”

And Wyoming Department of Education Chairman Ron Micheli told the Tribune:

“I don’t accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact. [The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.” 

 




Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · April 20