May 19 2014
Vicki E. Alger
Wyoming is the first state to reject Common Core science standards, referred to as “Next Generation Science Standards.”
Last fall a committee of science teachers unanimously recommended that the State Board of Education adopt the Next Gen science guidelines. But in March, lawmakers passed a footnote in the budget prohibiting any funding to enact the new standards. Why? Because it pushes global warming. As the Casper Star-Tribune reported:
‘[The standards] handle global warming as settled science,’ said Rep. Matt Teeters, a Republican from Lingle who was one of the footnote's authors. ‘There's all kind of social implications involved in that that I don't think would be good for Wyoming.’ Teeters said teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming's economy, as the state is the nation's largest energy exporter, and cause other unwanted political ramifications. [Ron] Micheli, the state board of education chairman, agreed. ‘I don't accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact,’ Micheli said. ‘[The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.’
The New York Times also weighed in, noting that:
In other states, the debate is also intense. Last fall, the Legislature in Kentucky voted to reject the new science guidelines but Gov. Steven L. Beshear overruled the Legislature and put the standards in place with an executive order. In South Carolina, state-specific guidelines with watered-down references to climate change and evolution are still awaiting approval by the State Legislature. Here in Wyoming and elsewhere, criticism of the Next Generation standards is also being fueled by a spreading backlash against national academic standards in general. Across the country, opponents on the right and left have attacked the Common Core…
When we put politicians--especially ones from Washington, DC--in charge of education, we shouldn’t be surprised when standards and subject material become politicized. Common Core national standards are a chilling case in point. The approved standards for English and math are watered-down, filled with political agendas, and involve the gathering of highly personal information from students about themselves and their families.
Not surprisingly, a growing number of parents are opting their children out of Common Core altogether.
Further empowering parents would help.
Wyoming is one of just a handful of states that limits parents’ educational options to district public schools. There are no public charter schools, no private school choice programs, such a publicly-funded voucher or privately-funded tax-credit scholarships, and no education savings account program (ESA).
If lawmakers in Wyoming really want to ensure that education is both high-quality and accountable, then it should expand parents’ options ASAP. That way, far-off DC pols would be less able to foist their particular political agendas on Wyoming students and their families.