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Wyoming officially rejects new science standards

Climate change controversy. ( Climate change controversy. (

(Correction: An earlier version of this post said Wyoming was the first state to reject the Next Generation Science Standards. South Carolina legislatively blocked the standards in 2012 before the final version was unveiled in 2013.)

This time the ruckus wasn’t as much about evolution as man-made climate change, but whatever the reason, Wyoming has legislatively blocked the  Next Generation Science Standards, an initiative aimed at boosting science education across the country.

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 (not including Wyoming).  Ten states have adopted the standards so far. In 2012, South Carolina legislatively blocked the state from implementing the standards, which weren’t formally unveiled until 2013.

In some states, such as Kansas, critics have targeted the standards material on evolution, but in Wyoming the subject that spurred the most opposition among legislators was man-made climate change (though parents had also objected to the teaching of evolution).

A group of Wyoming educators last year urged state officials to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, but, the Casper Star-Tribune reported, Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican who doesn’t believe  climate change is caused by human activity, recently approved a last-minute footnote to the budget introduced by legislators including Republican Rep. Matt Teeters, who was quoted as saying:

“[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.”

Why not? According to the Star-Tribune:

Teeters said teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming’s economy, as the state is the nation’s largest energy exporter, and cause other unwanted political ramifications.

State Board of Education Chairman Ron Micheli said Teeters is right, calling the standards “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 · March 17, 2014

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