Public support for climate change education in West Virginia

"The vast majority of official comments on new statewide K-12 science standards — the first to require teaching about global warming in mandatory courses — were in favor of them, according to the West Virginia Department of Education," reports the Charleston Gazette (April 6, 2015). With the comments in hand, the West Virginia state board of education is expected to have its final vote on the standards at its April 8, 2015, meeting.

The place of climate change in the new standards, closely based on the Next Generation Science Standards, was in the news ever since December 2014, when it was discovered that, at the request of a member of the state board of education, the standards were quietly revised to downplay the scientific consensus on climate change.

The Gazette observed, "an overwhelming majority of scientists accept [anthropogenic global warming], and the alterations to the climate change standards — like one that was modified to require students to question the credibility of computer climate models — diverged from the standards' treatment of other widely accepted scientific theories."

Condemnation of the revision came from NCSE — whose Mark McCaffrey contributed a column to the Gazette (January 4, 2015) — as well as from the West Virginia Science Teachers Association, faculty at West Virginia University, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Parents, and the National Science Teachers Association.

In January 2015, following a recommendation from the state department of education, the board voted to revert to the original version of the sections addressing climate science. "Board members were expected to adopt the unaltered version last month," the Gazette explained, "but the Department of Education said the move was delayed because of an extraordinarily large number of comments submitted."