Wyoming Rep. John Patton (R) is fighting to overturn a statewide ban on the teaching of climate science in schools.
Patton’s legislation, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, is causing controversy nationwide because it, according to the National Journal, calls on teachers to “instruct students that climate change is real and caused by human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels.”
Climate change has been the subject of a years-long debate, with many denying its existence or doubting the fact that it is man-made. Even Rep. Patton isn’t sure of his stance on climate change overall, but says that isn’t important.
“What I believe about global warming doesn't matter. We want students to have access to the most up-to-date science. Kids should have a chance to learn the science,” Patton said. Patton is hoping that the Board of Education, who has the authority to approve the bill, will consider it based on scientific merits and not on political stances relating to climate change.
“I think it's the right thing to do. The state Legislature has no business trying to decide what students can and can't learn,” Patton said.
Opponents of Patton’s standards have voiced their objection on the grounds that the bill promotes global warming as proven science despite arguments that it is not. “[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,” Republican Matt Teeters, one of the authors of the ban, said in March to the Casper Star-Tribune.
Though there is opposition, a panel of scientific educators in Wyoming has “unanimously recommended that the Board of Education adopt the academic framework.” Patton is also optimistic.
“I wouldn't have done this if I didn't think it could make it through. Now we just have to wait and see what happens next,” Patton stated.