CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Science education standards that could take effect in West Virginia’s schools during 2016 are once again open for public comment, this time without controversial alterations questioning the source of climate change.
The state Board of Education voted Wednesday to withdraw previously approved standards that generated pushback over late modifications by a board member who questioned whether humans were the cause of climate change.
The standards now will be open to a 30-day public comment period.
“I have great respect for the specialists in this state who study science and the pedagogy of science,” said Gayle Manchin, president of the state BOE.
She said many science educators, scholars and other stakeholders—some of whom offered input on the original drafted standards—became concerned when board member Wade Linger’s proposed revisions that were made without consultation. Linger has questioned whether humans are the primary impact on greenhouse gases.
Manchin said resetting the adoption process—and returning the standards to their original drafted form—was necessary to afford scientists “the opportunity to go back to what they had developed, through peer review and through work with other leading scientists around the country.”
Linger claimed the late alterations were about trying to “allow more than one point of view to be taught in the classroom.”
Dozens of people spoke passionately for and against Linger’s changes.
In one example, the revised ninth-grade science requirement said students would “analyze geoscience data and the predictions made by computer climate models to assess their credibility for predicting future impacts on the Earth system.”
The original standard had read: “analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change.”
Linger said “there’s no denying the warming in these” revisions, but claimed his modification would allow more information on various theories “about why the warming is happening and to what extent it’s happening and to whether it’s happening steadily or in cycles.”
Linger voted against the withdrawal, as did board member Tom Campbell, who said the contention boiled down to 29 words out of more than 26,000.
Before the meeting, opposition to the changes came from multiple fronts, including the National Science Teachers Association, West Virginia University’s faculty senate and the Allegheny Highlands Climate Change Impacts Initiative.
On Tuesday, the Allegheny Highlands group released a report detailing global warming’s effects in parts of West Virginia.
The BOE is scheduled to vote again on the science standards in March, which if approved, likely will be implemented for the 2016-2017 school year.