In the end, Wieser’s behind-the-scenes mobilization efforts paid off. She worked in the background to alert teachers and teacher organizations about the possible changes to the standards that might be forthcoming. She enlisted the aid of NCSE to generate interest in the unfolding story among state media outlets, and to notify local members about Douglas’s efforts to undermine the standards. She informed her education networks about upcoming board meetings when the draft standards would be open for public comment. And she gave interviews to local media to shine a light on what was at stake.
“Typically Arizona gets in a draft release of the standards anywhere from 100 to 400 individuals commenting on the draft,” Wieser notes. “With the press attention, I think there were 1,500 unique responses to the draft. It definitely packed the boardroom—press came to the board meetings—and that typically doesn’t happen in a standards adoption process.”
Wieser continues, “I don’t think we would have had the same impact if it hadn’t been for NCSE.”
Ultimately, the state board voted to adopt the standards without Douglas’s revisions and with the material about evolution restored. It was a victory for science teachers and, most importantly, for students throughout the state.
Wieser is still involved in science education, helping to support the review of instructional materials that claim alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards via her work at an organization called EdReports. She believes that one of the big obstacles to a quality science education continues to be “willful ignorance” towards science, which was the case with Douglas (who lost her post in the following election) and certain other education officials in Arizona.
“The denying of science is huge because it’s really hard to make a case for quality science education when a part of the population doesn’t value or ‘believe’ in science,” Wieser says.
In Arizona, for the moment, the value of accurate, effective, quality science education is in fact understood. Many had a hand in ensuring that outcome, but perhaps no one put more on the line towards that goal than Lacey Wieser.