Wyoming has become the first state to officially reject the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), primarily due to the science standards’ presentation of man-made climate change as a fact, as well as their depiction of evolution as scientific fact.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, a big problem for some Wyoming lawmakers is the NGSS’s expectation that students will learn humans have significantly changed the Earth’s biosphere and, consequently, caused global warming.
Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities…
Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.
Similarly, from the NGSS, Disciplinary Core Idea ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems:
Things that people do to live comfortably can affect the world around them. But they can make choices that reduce their impacts on the land, water, air, and other living things.
In an email interview with Breitbart News, state Rep.Tom Reeder (R) said, “We believe that Global Warming is a theory and should be taught as such in our schools. We are also very concerned that Evolution will be taught as fact, when in reality, it too, is only a theory.”
“The standards should teach facts as facts and theories as theories, allowing students to form their own opinions in a healthy, non-partisan way,” Reeder said.
Regarding the science standards’ expectations of students in the core areas of global climate change and human impacts on the earth, Reeder said, “The reader of this naturally comes to the conclusion that humans have poorly managed our natural resources in past history; thus, we now need international treaties and more government regulations to mitigate the problems.”
“It also stresses the environmental impacts caused by the use of fossil fuels without talking about the positive impacts they have had and will continue to have, especially in Wyoming,” Reeder told Breitbart News.
“Is this the message we want to send to the students of Wyoming? Does Wyoming want more regulations, international treaties and to impress on our students that using fossil fuels is bad?” he asked.
Emphasizing that the states have different cultures that should not have to be sacrificed for the sake of centralized standards, Reeder added, “Wyoming does not have to adopt these standards. Instead, we can write our own standards that are conducive to our way of life here in Wyoming.”
“Wyoming can also look to other states for examples of standards they have written,” he said. “There are a number of options that can and should be considered before adopting The Next Generation Science Standards for Wyoming.”
Ron Micheli, State Board of Education Chairman, agrees, saying, “I don’t accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact. [The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.”
However, Pete Gosar, chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said politics should not be used to bar teaching good science.
“Over the last few years in Wyoming, we’ve injected politics into education time and again and it has been less than successful.”
The NGSS are part of an attempt to centralize education in the United States. The controversial Common Core math and English Language Arts (ELA) standards were adopted by 45 state boards of education. To date, a total of 33 states now have had some form of legislation raised against the Common Core, the aligned testing, or the associated student data collection.
Ten states have adopted the centralized NGSS thus far, including California, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Kansas, Delaware, and Washington State.
The science standards channel the math and ELA Common Core by expecting students to learn fewer concepts that are supposedly analyzed in more detail. They were developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve Inc, the progressive education company that was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and that helped design the math and ELA Common Core standards. As with the Common Core, the groups that developed the NGSS say that the science standards are “state-led.”
As reported by Education Week in January, Stephen L. Pruitt, a senior vice president at Achieve, said adoption of the science standards is happening more slowly than the Common Core math and ELA standards because of the lack of federal incentives. The Race to the Top stimulus program that lured states into adopting the Common Core is not currently in place for the science standards, leaving states to come up with the funding for science resources on their own.
The fact that federal financial incentives are not available for states who wish to adopt the NGSS does not mean the federal government is not influencing the standards’ development in some way, or, conversely, that those who developed the standards are not influencing the federal government.
For example, one of President Obama’s choices last November for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology was Dr. Susan L. Graham, former co-chair of the National Research Council, one of the creators of the NGSS.
In addition, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), also a creator of the NGSS, lists among its “corporate and government partners” the U.S. Army, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the FDA, and the Departments of Defense and Energy.
As an aside, both Bill Gates’ company Microsoft and ExxonMobil are corporate partners of NSTA. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent over $170 million to both develop and implement the Common Core standards, and ExxonMobil has championed the Common Core as well, even going so far as to threaten to move its operations out of Pennsylvania if Gov. Tom Corbett (R) did not implement the controversial standards in Pennsylvania schools.
The federal government-NGSS connection can also be seen in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The science organization’s website states the following:
Many of the activities for which AAAS is best known today emerged from initiatives taken since 1970. Drawing increasingly on support from foundations and federal agencies, the Association has built pioneering programs for bringing underrepresented groups into science; applying science to human rights; supporting the growth of science in the developing world; exploring issues of science, ethics, and law; tracking federal spending for R&D; and in bringing scientists and engineers to work in Congress and executive agencies of government. Project 2061 has taken on the ambitious task of reforming American science education from kindergarten to 12th grade. And Science has become the one of the world’s most prestigious and widely-quoted scientific journals as well as a respected source of science news.
Ironically, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which received funds from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core, has been critical of the Next Generation Science Standards.
Michael Petrilli, Fordham’s executive vice president, said, “There’s not enough focus on content…The standards seem to go out of their way to downplay the knowledge.”