Wyoming Legislature: Scientists are Witches!

Probably coming to a Legislature near you, the Wyoming Republican Legislature and Governor passed a bill outlawing even the consideration of improved science standards for their schools. According to the Huffington Post, the Wyoming Board of Education is legally prohibited from reviewing the Next Generation Science Standards:

Rep. Matt Teeters (R-Lingle) first proposed a budget amendment that stops the state from considering the NGSS, according to Wyoming outlet the Casper Star-Tribune. Gov. Matt Mead (R) approved this amendment in his budget Wednesday.

In Kansas and Kentucky, both of which would eventually adopt the NGSS, the measure previously drew opposition from right-wing groups that opposed its teachings of climate change and evolution as fact.

“Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Baptist minister and NGSS opponent Matt Singleton said at a Kentucky hearing in July. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”

Lest you, like a Republican legislator from Wyoming, think that the Next Generation Science Standards are some kind of radical plot to teach kids pure evil, it’s worth noting who supports their adoption. Well-known socialist front groups like the  ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Chevron, and Intel are among the businesses urging the adoption of science standards that will help American kids compete globally.

It’s the same fight as we’re seeing with the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts. The radical right is so far removed from the realities and necessities of modern education, that they are in opposition to major, conservative corporations. Why? Because they fear critical thought, truthful science, and challenging education.

Let’s work to make sure that Montana schools are able to continue offering the best standards to our students.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • It seems to me that the vast majority of people opposing the new science standards fear that if the standards are adopted, what their children learn in school will cause them to reject the religious beliefs of their parents, and to conclude that their parents are superstitious old fools. It’s the current incarnation of the attitudes and ignorance that led to the Scopes Trial. Will it lead to a similar trial in Cheyenne?

    • Interesting to note that Clarence Darrow thought that the Scopes trail was the most important trial of his long career. The Fundis and their ignorance scared the hell outta Darrow. Also, on a side note, Spencer Tracy thought that his movie Inherit the Wind was his most important movie of his career. Fundamentalism and ignorance truly are frightening and I would argue antithetical to our democracy. Crazy to see its resurgence in this day and age, especially after the enlightenment of the sixties. Hell, I thought we really were headed for the Age of Aquarius and NOT the Age of Deliverance! (and the pastor baldwin types!) I still have a extremely difficult time believing that there are so many confederate loving racist morons in Montana. How did that happen? That is not us! That’s southern Baptist crap! Heck, we’re catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist type people! Or at least used to be! We’re more interested in Ludefisk than overthrowing the country!

    • Perhaps Wyoming wants a top notch approach cafeteria style rather than a peanut butter approach. http://www.livescience.com/40283-ngss-science-standards-change-education.html

      3. Missing science

      The move from facts to practice has left some observers of NGSS cold, however. The standards earned a “C” grade in a review conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an independent education foundation. That middling grade came largely because the standards leave out important content, said Ursula Goodenough, a biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and one of the review’s co-authors.

      “We thought that a lot of the science was poorly done,” Goodenough said.

      For instance, the reviewers found the NGSS’s treatment of chemistry particularly lacking, said Douglas Buttrey, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Delaware, who also co-authored the review. “For example, the students do not directly learn about the elements until high school, when the Periodic Table of Elements is taught.”

      Fordham found the standards’ use of “assessment boundaries” particularly damaging, Goodenough said. These stipulations explicitly limit the topics that students should be expected to learn, though the standards do offer the option of including additional content. For example, an assessment boundary for middle-school chemistry states that students do not need to learn atomic masses or intermolecular forces. The Fordham reviewers note these “intermolecular forces” are the bonds that underlie chemistry.

      “This struck me as unfortunate,” Goodenough said. “If they wanted to have the content, they should have had it, not dumbed it down with boundaries.”…

      Politics aside, many states might actually be better off keeping their existing standards, which were developed by individual state education boards using a variety of sources. (California, for example, drew on the National Science Education Standards, developed in 1996, as well as curricula from California and other schools.)The Fordham reviewers graded the NGSS inferior to the standards of 24 states, including some, like California, that have already adopted the new guidelines.
      END QUOTE===
      Why would any state looking to improve their science education choose a C level NGSS approach rather than replicate the A level approach of California? (See the Fordham study) This is an investment choice for the future and evaluating the ROI of that investment. One approach sub-optimizes that education and the ROI.

      • While I understand your role is to be a contrarian at every turn, you realize the Wyoming Legislature blocked even consideration of the NGSS, right? There can certainly be a debate about the quality of standards we use in our classrooms, but not when one side, blinded by ideology, blocks open discussion.

        • Don, while I understand it is your role to put every issue into a hyper-partisan, ideological framework, I don’t think we know what is going on in Wyoming and why. What I don’t understand with your attack is why you support investing in participation ribbon results when the goal should be world class science competence that gives the greatest ROI to the taxpayers and the children. Even though the NGSS would be a vast improvement for both Wyoming and Montana, it’s sub-optimization with much better models to replicate using the same level of taxation and time spent in study. Forget the witches insult, anyone that can’t do the math here with an eye to the future needs remedial education.

          • I know your game by now, Craig. You google an alternative–and because someone says that it’s better than the idea presented–you latch on to it like a lamprey, never letting go, no matter how hard the truth pulls you away.

            Precluding discussion of a set of standards is the opposite of rigorous intellect. They didn’t reject the NGSS; they refuse to allow it to be considered.

            Have you retracted your claim yet that the the Kalispell clinic vandal suffers from Down Syndrome yet?

            • If I made such claim, quote my words stating such or be revealed a liar. I think I speculated, nothing more. Your turn.

                • Here are my words that you FAILED to quote at CG. ” If it turns out he has the diminished mental capacity of a young child, would you still apply that label to him?”

                  Did you notice that I said “If?” Did I say Down’s as you assert? Did I make a definitive statement?

                  At your blog I said, ” Since you are so keen on speculation, if Klundt is determined to have the mental capacity and IQ of someone much younger than his 24 years, then what? Is he still a terrorist in your world of political condemnation?

                  Did you notice that I said “If?” Did I say Down’s as you assert? Did I make a definitive statement?

                  Yes Don, you are a liar. But that’s OK, nothing more is expected of you.

                  However, you fail at debate when you left the topic to attack me personally since you have no response to my inquiry about sub-optimizing with NGSS rather than optimizing with a cafeteria approach that California pursued to achieve an “A” grade on science education. Taxpayers and students deserve better than your nonsense.

                • Yeah, I’ll take debate tips from the guy who linked to pictures of people with Down Syndrome to defend someone who attacked a healthcare provider. As for the “better” science standards, it seems pretty obvious that Wyoming shouldn’t have to ban consideration of a set of standards so obviously inferior, right?

                  Nice try.

        • There is no open discussion. The standards were thrust upon us. I am from Wyoming, and I believe in evolution, and I strongly oppose CCSS. Why are parents crazy because they dare to question what is being taught to our children. You may be that trusting with your children, but i am not. I have met and spoke in depth with Dr. Sandra Stotsky the creator of Massachusetts top ELA standards. She and Dr Migram were on the validation board for the CCSS, and both were very troubled by the holes in them. There is too little stem for math, and puts our students 2 years behind globally by the 7th grade. ELA is too demanding for young children and can only be parroted back by small children, but the concept is too sophisticated and developmentally inappropriate. We do not know if the standards are globally competitive, because the standards have not been tested. The closest thing we have to a pilot program is New York, and their teachers pulled support from the standards. I am also not comfortable with my children being tracked by over 20 state agencies well into adulthood. It is not my side that is ignorant.

  • I just don’t know why we’re wasting time talking of this. Don’t you know the Rapture is coming and all the wicked will be punished while God takes the righteous up to sit beside Him in Heaven?

    Jesus does not like free-thinkers, so fall in line.

  • I think Evolution has been proven. At least that’s what I’ve read; everything can be so political.

    It’s global warming I am skeptical about.

    If you have kids, bone up on the subject, make sure your school teaches it to your satisfaction. If not, home school. Or at least have a serious ‘rebuttal’ class with your child.

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