Thursday, March 20, 2014

151.5 - Clown Award: Wyoming

Clown Award: Wyoming

The update about the Keystone XL pipeline takes us right to the Clown Award, given weekly for an act of meritorious stupidity. This week, the big red nose goes to an entire state: Wyoming.

There is this thing called the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, intended to establish benchmarks for science education in schools that would be uniform across the country. They were developed with input from 26 states.

NGSS has been controversial in some of the expected places. For example, in Kentucky a Baptist minister complained that it presents quoting "the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution" as fact and said the standards are a "fascist method [that] teaches that our children are the property of the state.” Despite that, Kentucky adopted the standards, one of 10 states to do so, so far.

Well, last year, a committee of Wyoming educators recommended that the state adopt the Science Standards and the state Board of Education began holding hearings last November. Again, the usual crazies were out, denouncing the idea of presenting scientific facts as facts. Doing so was an "atheistic" attempt to impose a "particular political view."

But then the state of Wyoming went beyond that to something unprecedented in the argument. Just under two weeks ago, the legislature passed and the Governor approved a budget that would bar the state not only from funding but even from reviewing the Standards. It was literally a case of closing their eyes, putting their fingers in their ears, and going "nah-nah-nah-I-can't-hear-you!"

Why? Well, there were some references to evolution in the complaints, but the real reason for behaving like a bunch of stubborn 6-year-olds was that the standards present global warming as fact. That was the only substantive objections raised. And that they just could not abide.

After all, Governor Matt Mead has said he's not sure there is such a thing as global warming - and of course, he knows more about it than 97% of the world's climatologists.

On the other hand, that's just run-of-the-mill stupidity. This is what gets the award:

State Rep. Matt Teeters, one of the authors of the provision banning review of the standards told the Caspar Star-Tribune that
[the standards] handle global warming as settled science. There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.
What implications? Wyoming is the largest energy exporter among the states and Teeters said teaching global warming as fact would harm Wyoming’s economy. In other words, it doesn't even matter if it's true or not, we will not say it anyway.

State Board of Education Chair Ron Micheli agreed with Teeters, saying he doesn't accept that climate change is a fact and - here's the money shot -
[the standards are] very prejudiced against fossil-fuel development.
There you have it: The Wyoming Board of Education, the Wyoming legislature, and the Wyoming governor have joined forces to actively prevent school children from learning the scientific facts - facts - about something that will have far greater impact on their future than the status of Wyoming as an energy exporter because scientific truth is "prejudiced against fossil-fuel development" - and, one strongly suspect, the campaign donations from that industry.

The state of Wyoming: You are a clown.


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