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West Virginia Board of Education Hears Debate on Science Standards for Teaching Climate Change


The West Virginia Board of Education rescinded a proposal on Wednesday on teaching requirements for education science standards on climate change.

Over a hundred people flooded the board room at the state capitol, many of them because of a controversial addition to the science curriculum for k-12 grade students.

Recognizing their concerns, the board voted to place the proposal back on a 30-day public comment period.

The vote came at the suggestion of Clayton Burch, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer. “It’s important to get it right.”

Next Generation is West Virginia’s version of Common Core.

About 7 people spoke against the motion to withdraw the policy. Two were staff of CFACT, a D.C. based nonprofit that promotes the theory that global warming is caused by natural cycles in the earth’s atmosphere.

“Let me categorically state up front, there is absolutely no scientific consensus on the issue of climate change,” said Craig Rucker, who lives in Virginia, and makes over $100,000 working to generate more public debate about Climate Change.

Rucker has also been mentoring a Marshall University student, Caitlyn Grimes, a Political Science major, who told the board they are wrong to continue to teach climate change as dogma.

Humans are causing climate change, according to the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change.

Here in West Virginia, however, not everyone is convinced. But not all West Virginians are climate deniers. Jim Sconyers lives in Preston County and is a retired math and science teacher. He’s also President of the West Virginia Sierra Club and says climate change is a reality.

“As a teacher, I would have been furious to espouse falsehoods and propaganda from the fossil fuel industry’s well-oiled misinformation campaign as science. I am really sorry to see that this episode has made West Virginia a national and international laughing stock,” Sconyers said.

A dozen environmentalists like Sconyers spoke against the new science standards that would encourage students to debate whether or not climate change is a reality. The changes to the standards were made last fall, at the request of state school board member Wade Linger. He had said he didn’t believe human-influenced climate change is a “foregone conclusion.”

Ashton Marra/ WVPB

“I simply asked that people take a look at the wording of the proposed standards and ask themselves, ‘Does that really restrict students from being taught all of the theories about global warming. And it restricts nothing,” said Linger.

Although the board voted to withdraw the policy with Linger’s changes, the way climate change is taught in public schools in West Virginia could continue to be a debate. Beginning next week, the public will have 30 days to comment on the latest version of the state’s scientific standards, for a policy that will go into effect July 2016. For more information about making a comment, visit the state’s website.