Science Standards Challenged Again in West Virginia Over Global Warming

By Liana Loewus — February 29, 2016 1 min read
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It’s been almost a year since the West Virginia school board voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, though with a few changes to the wording on climate change.

But now the science standards, which are set to go into place July 1, are being challenged once again. The West Virginia House of Delegates voted on Friday (by a margin of 73-20) to delay implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for another year. House members have complained that the standards “don’t reflect both sides of the global warming debate,” reports the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The standards, as originally written, say in several places that global temperatures have risen and that human activities are a primary cause—a stance more than 95 percent of climate scientists agree with.

But some West Virginia delegates say global warming should not be taught as a given. “In an energy-producing state, it’s a concern to me that we are teaching our kids potentially that we are doing immoral things here in order to make a living in our state,” Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, told the Gazette-Mail. “We need to make sure our science standards are actually teaching science and not pushing a political agenda.” West Virginia is among the nation’s largest coal producers.

The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate, which is also Republican-led. If it does pass, West Virginia students will continue learning the current state science standards.

It’s a bit surprising this debate has come to a head again because the West Virginia board of education had already made some tweaks to the Next Generation Science Standards to satisfy climate change doubters. Rather than including the language that global temperatures “have risen,” the board modified the standards to say there have been “changes” in temperatures.

The National Science Teachers Association has never considered West Virginia an NGSS adopter because of these modifications. The Mountain State not included, 17 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.


A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.