The Wyoming Board of Education has officially moved to keep modern, consensus-driven science out of the classroom, because that science happens to include global warming.
The board decided to subject the Next Generation Science Standards, a multi-state effort to improve science education, to additional review after state politicians, including Republican Gov. Matt Mead (a self-professed climate skeptic) took issue with their presentation of climate change (and evolution) as fact. That reality, they’ve been none too subtle in asserting, conflicts with the state’s reliance on coal: Explaining to students that yes, climate change is happening, and yes, CO2 emissions from coal are a major contributor could lead to some messy questions. “[The standards] handle global warming as settled science,” explained Rep. Matt Teeters. “There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.”
He later clarified: ”I think those concepts should be taught in science; I just think they should be taught as theory and not as scientific fact.”
Paul Bruno, a California science teacher who reviewed the standards, countered that the standards aren’t quite the anti-coal nightmare Wyoming’s making them out to be, noting that they take costs and other considerations into account when discussing potential solutions to global warming. “I think it’s fair to say that the Next Generation Standards at least make gestures in the direction of wanting to accommodate those potentially skeptical viewpoints, particularly when it comes to things like energy production,” he told the Associated Press. Which really, at this point in the game — when the scientific consensus on climate change is stronger than ever — is all they can ask for.
Twelve other states have adopted the standards since they were released in April of last year, the AP reports, and Wyoming is the first to reject them. But the state insists it can do better. According to board president Ron Micheli, the review will seek to determine whether ”we can’t get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of.” Don’t hold your breath on that one.