Criticism of the Wyoming legislature continues


The decision of the Wyoming legislature to prevent the state from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards because of concerns about their presentation of climate change continues to attract spirited criticism in editorial and opinion columns, both in Wyoming and nationally.

In a column for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (May 17, 2014), Marguerite Herman systematically debunked the arguments of the Wyoming opponents of the NGSS, which she described as "hyperbole and misdirection." She concluded, "Let's all focus on the facts and resist the distractions of political hyperbole and histrionics. Keep your eye on the rabbit of good, evidence-based science standards for our students. Get your critical thinking caps on."

Writing in the Casper Star-Tribune (May 23, 2014), Audrey Cotherman — a former Wyoming deputy state superintendent of schools — sarcastically recommended, "we should applaud a Legislature that in one tiny footnote can violate young people's right to the best knowledge available, the local control of school boards, the separation of church and state, and the purpose of the founding Fathers in creating mandatory, free, education. But I don't."

The New York Times (May 24, 2014) editorially described the decision as "truly depressing," explaining that although it was apparently motivated by the idea that allowing students to learn about climate change would threaten the energy industry, "it seemed also to be a willful effort to leave a whole generation of children in the dark about climate science. This is more than standard-issue political posturing. It is madness."

In the Boston Globe (May 28, 2014), Derrick Z. Jackson excoriated "the spasm of ignorance that continues to prolong national inaction on climate change," adding, "The Wyoming legislature refused to approve the national standards because it was afraid they would turn children against the state's coal and oil industry." He concluded, "With each state that denies science, the nation moves closer to the tipping point where the cost is beyond control."

In the meantime, according to the Casper Star-Tribune (May 27, 2014), the state department of education is reconstituting the science standards review committee; a spokesperson for the department explained, "no portion or any documents that have any portion of the NGSS are to be reviewed in the committee."