The Wyoming legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would allow the state board of education to consider the Next Generation Science Standards, which acknowledge man-made climate change.
The bill, which now heads to Gov. Matt Mead’s (R) desk, reverses the legislature’s budget amendment in 2014 that blocked the board from adopting the standards. Wyoming lawmakers originally opposed the standards because they acknowledge climate change and may have limited state control over education standards.
Before the state House and Senate agreed on a bill allowing the state school board to consider the Next Generation Science Standards and create standards that “promote excellence,” the legislature debated whether the science standards must be “unique” to the state.
Sen. Eli Bebou (R) added an amendment to the Senate version of the bill that would have required the state Board of Education to develop “science standards that are unique to Wyoming.” The House rejected the amendment, and the two chambers eventually agreed on the bill that passed on Thursday.
Education groups and the state Board of Education support the Next Generation Science Standards.
“The board wishes that they would have all standards available to the committee for review so there would be no limit on what could be considered or adopted,” Paige Fenton-Hughes, the Wyoming Board of Education coordinator, told the Casper Star Tribune. “We want the best science standards for kids, regardless of whoever develops them or wherever they come from.”
If the board approves the standards, Wyoming will become the fourteenth state to adopt them. The Utah Board of Education recently put approval of the Next Generation Standards on hold due to concerns over climate change and local input. West Virginia approved the standards last year, but originally included edits to the standards that cast doubt on the science behind climate change. In January, the board removed the language from the standards that questioned global warming.