The New York Times on the Wyoming debacle


The New York Times (May 19, 2014) covered the Wyoming legislature's decision to block the Next Generation Science Standards because of their treatment of climate change. 

The story explains, "In Wyoming, after 18 months of study and comparison with standards from other states, a committee of science educators unanimously recommended last fall that the State Board of Education adopt the guidelines. In March, at the tail end of the state’s legislative session, lawmakers passed a footnote to the biennial budget, prohibiting any public spending to implement the new standards." The board subsequently voted not to implement the NGSS, instead asking the committee to develop a new set of standards, although reportedly without offering any guidance how to do so. The chair of the board cited climate denial literature at the meeting where the vote occurred, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (April 18, 2014).

"Political realities should not wag the dog of science," Marguerite Herman, a lobbyist for the American League of Women Voters in Wyoming and a member of Wyoming for Science Education, told the Times, adding, "We acknowledge and appreciate the revenue that has been raised and that runs this state from oil and gas extraction and from the coal mining, and it is a fact that our schools are well funded because of it. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change a scientific fact." The story notes also that there are districts in Wyoming that have adopted the NGSS without the state's blessing; as NCSE's Mark McCaffrey observed in the Casper Star-Tribune (May 4, 2014), at least fifteen are reported to have done so.

"Wyoming was the first state to say no" to climate-friendly standards, the Times adds, "but likely not the last. A House committee in Oklahoma last week voted to reject the standards, also in part because of concerns about how climate change would be taught."