March 20, 2014 – Ron Micheli, Chairman of Wyoming’s Board of Education when presented with the latest educational standards for teaching science has rejected them because they show evidence of how humans are impacting global climate.
“I don’t accept, personally, that it is a fact,” states Micheli. He goes on to indicate that these new educational standards are “prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.”
He is supported by Matt Teeters, a State Representative who says “There’s all kind of social implications involved….that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.” He too is standing firmly with Wyoming’s oil, gas and coal producers.
The Next Generation Science Standards or NGSS is a collaborative, state-led process focused on education from kindergarten to high school. It is based on research developed by the National Research Council.
Within the standards ESS3D focuses on Global Climate Change looking at weather, climate and human sustainability.
In Middle School the students learn to collect data about the movement of air masses that lead to weather changes. They develop models to describe how unequal heating and Earth’s rotation cause atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns which determine regional climates. They ask questions about the evidence and factors causing the rise in global temperatures over the last century.
In High School the students use a model to map the energy of Earth’s systems that influence climate. They analyze data and look at global climate models to make evidence-based forecasts for regional and global climate change. They study the evidence of how human activity influences climate and look at cost-benefit analysis related to resource extraction and climate impacts. They create simulations to illustrate how to do both natural resource extraction while maintaining biodiversity. They look at how technology can reduce the impact of human activities on natural systems. And finally they study computational models that illustrate Earth systems in interaction with human activity.
All of this education and learning just seems too impractical for Wyoming’s Board of Education Chairman. Whereas other states have signed on to the new curriculum, Wyoming should be proud to be the first to block the implementation of these new science teaching standards. Well it appears Wyoming is carrying on true to form. Among U.S. states teaching science it is received the “useless” rating addressing the teaching of the science of evolution. But nevertheless evolution has not been nixed from Wyoming’s science curriculum probably because it poses no threat to the resource industries within the state. After all, natural selection has nothing directly to do with oil, coal and gas. But teaching anthropogenic climate change is a threat and therefore Wyoming’s youth must remain in the dark in a show of respect and support for the state’s domestic fossil fuel industry.