Wyoming stops work on state science standards

Jul 3, 2014 The Associated Press

RAWLINS -- The Wyoming Board of Education voted to suspend work on new science standards for the state's public schools until lawmakers rescind a ban on adopting education guidelines that endorse the theory of man-made climate change.

The board approved the resolution 10-1 on Tuesday because its members took offense at how lawmakers got involved in the issue, board member Pete Gosar said.

"In my opinion, when you remove the best standards from the realm of possibility for new science standards, you're going to make an inferior product," said Pete Gosar, a Democratic candidate for governor.

State educators had been working on developing new science standards for a year and a half before the Legislature intervened, Gosar said.

The vote implements science standards that Wyoming adopted in 2008.

Last winter, the Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead approved a budget containing a footnote that prohibits Wyoming from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. Wyoming was the first state to reject the guidelines.

The legislation prompted state education officials to begin developing new science standards. But board member Walt Wilcox, an associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Natrona County schools, said people developing new standards would have difficulty not referring to the Next Generation Science Standards.

"There's no guarantee that what we bring forward will not either unintentionally or intentionally have a direct correlation with NGSS," Wilcox said. "We just aren't confident that we can produce standards that will not have a connection or interpretation connected with that."

Some, including Mead, say they're skeptical humans may be contributing to global climate change.

Coal burned in power plants is a major source of the greenhouse gas that scientists say leads to global warming. Far more coal is mined in Wyoming than any other state, and state officials express concern about ongoing federal efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

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