Wyoming has become the first state to reject the new science standards for grades K – 12 because climate change was included in the curriculum. In the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) plans to remove education on human participation in global warming from school plans if elected in 2015. Some scientists and writers believe decisions to ban the instruction of climate change in schools result from relationships between legislators and major players in the power arena.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) may sound like something that Captain Picard learned back at Starfleet Academy. In fact it is a trademarked plan for teaching students science across the United States. Formed via joint partnership of representatives from 26 states, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Achieve, the plan was four years in the making. The curriculum outlined includes content on evolution and climate change. Nine states and the District of Columbia have approved the plan. The states include California, Oregon, Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Nevada and Delaware.
The adoptions did not come without some resistance, however. In Kentucky, there proved to be some resistance from the public regarding the implementation of these guidelines. The public outcry caused the legislature to vote against the measures in September 2013, even though the school board already approved them. In this particular case, the state’s structure allowed the Governor, Steve Beshear to overrule the legislative decision and implement the NGSS plan anyway. The Kansas school board voted to approve the NGSS by an 8-2 margin, though some critics were surprised at the change in sentiment from the 2005 standards that took a skeptical view of Darwinism. Shortly after the plan was approved an anti-evolution group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, filed a lawsuit against the school board, claiming the NGSS plan promotes atheism to the student body and therefore violates the separation between church and state.
Now Wyoming has become the first state to block the standards, even after the school board voted to approve them. The Casper Star Tribune reported that the block was phrased into a budget provision, and gives responsibility for the writing to State Representative Matt Teeters. The media outlet quotes him as mentioning the “social implications involved” that he didn’t think would be good for the state because it would “wreck Wyoming’s economy.” This has been used as fuel for the theory that Wyoming’s reliance on fossil fuel production for a significant number of jobs is the main concern in blocking new educational standards for the state’s children. Legislation to establish an advisory panel for the Board of Education content committees is underway. Representative Tom Reeder, a Republican from Casper, as well as Representative Gary Piiparinen, a Republican out of Evanston claim that the issue with the standards is how they were adopted, not the curriculum itself.
Across the pond, the United Kingdom Independence Party plans to institute similar bans on climate change instruction if granted power by the people in May of 2015. In January of this year, spokesman for UKIP, Derek Clark, made his thoughts on global warming clear, “It just is not happening.” 41 of the states have yet to make final determinations to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. Information will be posted on the National Science Teachers Association and the NGSS website as it becomes available.
By Aliya Tyus-Barnwell
National Science Teachers Association
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Index on Censorship
International Business Times
Casper Star Tribune
Ring of Fire Radio
Next Generation Science Standards