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Editorial reaction to the latest in Wyoming

Editorialists and columnists in Wyoming are irate with the state government after the state board of education decided not to implement the Next Generation Science Standards. As NCSE previously reported, a footnote in Wyoming's budget for 2014-2016 precluded the use of state funds "for any review or adoption" of the Next Generation Science Standards, and one of its authors acknowledged that the NGSS's treatment of climate change was a reason for the prohibition. It was hoped that the board might have adopted the NGSS with the funds available to it before the new budget period begins. Instead, at its April 11, 2014, meeting, the board referred the standards back to a state department of education committee — which previously unanimously recommended the adoption of the NGSS.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (April 18, 2014) was livid, editorially writing, "We might not know the exact extent to which man has affected climate change, but we do know that Wyoming is filled with political cowards. Some of them have stepped into the spotlight in the debate over implementing new science standards." The editorial complained specifically about Matt Teeters (R-District 5), to whom the footnote is generally attributed; Governor Matt Mead, who could have used his line-item veto to delete the footnote; and Ron Micheli, the chair of the board, who, according to the Tribune Eagle, cited climate change denial propaganda during the board's meeting. The editorial concluded, "It's sad that these cowards decide policy in this state. ... cowards refusing to stand up for what's right."

Citing the position of the energy industry itself, the Casper Star-Tribune (April 20, 2014) editorially argued, "These companies ... realize the Earth is changing and are basing multi-decade projections and business decisions on the expectation of climate change. If the companies themselves are acting on this, it's safe to say they won't mind if our children learn about it, too," adding, "Anyone who stands in the way is denying our children the chance to be part of the vanguard of well-informed Wyomingites with the potential to figure out how to harness the state's energy resources in an environmentally responsible way. It's disappointing that the state isn't interested in joining the energy companies and being part of the solution, but it's reprehensible for it to deny that chance to our children."

The Laramie Boomerang (April 21, 2014) editorially commented, "the board would have been saving the lawmakers and particularly the governor from continuing embarrassment and controversy. It's not as if the science standards haven't been carefully reviewed and studied already. A committee of Wyoming teachers charged with examining the standards has unanimously endorsed them for adoption," adding, sarcastically, "But, of course, politicians know better." The Boomerang concluded, "These proposed standards aren't perfect, but the overall impact of the standards is a substantial step forward from where we are now. ... One way or another, the Wyoming Board of Education must find a way to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. They owe that to every school child in this state."

And writing in the Casper Star-Tribune (April 21, 2014), Pete Gosar, a member of the state board of education, expressed his dismay with the legislature's decision to block the NGSS. Observing that "there exists little doubt that the Next Generation Science Standards would have helped to prepare Wyoming students for an increasingly competitive world, and that they are far superior to our existing Wyoming science standards" and "that they were unanimously recommended by a diverse and accomplished Wyoming science content committee after more than 18 months of careful deliberations," he noted that the legislature's decision was taken without consulting the committee members and without any open and public legislative debate about the legislature's concerns about the NGSS.