An environmental group is taking its fight against fossil fuel into the classroom, accusing officials in the nation's largest coal-producing state of choosing coal over kids.
Climate Parents, which has 38,000 members nationally and aims to motivate parents “from every walk of life” to take action against climate change, has mounted an aggressive campaign in The Cowboy State after lawmakers blocked the state's board of education from adopting a science curriculum that regards man-made climate change as a fact.
“The Board of Education could push back against political meddling and assert its authority over setting science standards, but it will take an outcry from parents and science supporters from Wyoming and throughout the country,” the group’s website reads. “Tell the Wyoming State Board of Education to stand up for Wyoming students and adopt 21st century science standards that include climate science education by signing the petition below.”
The petition, which had been shared on Facebook more than 1,000 times as of Friday, calls for supporters to back “world-class science standards” that must include instruction on climate science. It contains a photograph of six children alongside three large smokestacks and the phrase: “Coal Over Kids?”
“Wyoming kids deserve an education based on high quality, evidence-based 21st-century science standards,” the petition reads. “Wyoming students need to graduate from our schools ready for college, career and a changing climate. They must be ready to compete academically with students from any other state.”
The group’s director and co-founder, Lisa Hoyos, told FoxNews.com that children need to be "scientifically informed" in a global economy.
“What’s getting lost in some of the back and forth is that we are parents from Wyoming and around the country who want kids to get a world-class science education that include climate science along with math and engineering and chemistry," Hoyos said. "We really need to prepare our kids to be scientifically informed."
Some critics, including a Wyoming public school teacher, have taken exception with the group’s efforts, saying the majority of the petition’s 14,000 signatures are from out-of-state residents.
“Local control of education is where the power of the individual is heard,” teacher Christy Hooley wrote on EAGNews.org. “This is a parental right, for their voice to be heard and for it to be taken to the powers that can make change. This is what happened when the Legislature acted.”
Wyoming’s current state science standards haven’t been updated since 2003, but new guidelines were approved last month in three other areas: social studies, physical education and career & vocational education.
Hooley accused Hoyos and the group of smearing education officials, as well as local legislators. She claimed Climate Parents plainly want climate change taught as an “accepted fact,” in opposition to some local lawmakers, residents and advocacy groups who claim the science standards present a lopsided view of manmade climate change.
“The Next Generation Science Standards are just inferior standards for the state of Wyoming,” Amy Edmonds, policy analyst for the Wyoming Liberty Group, told the Laramie Boomerang, citing an analysis by a conservative think tank that gave the standards a “C” rating.
“Anyone who reads the standards will understand that there is not a fair and balanced view of climate change,” Edmonds told the newspaper, adding that the idea that climate change is settled science is open to debate in her opinion.
State Board of Education Chair Ron Micheli has said the jury remains out on climate change, adding there’s still no consensus on global warming. Micheli said the agency was “going back to the drawing board” in an April 16 statement announcing the failure to adopt NGSS standards, which were developed by 26 states and national education and science associations. At least nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards as of Friday.
“As it turns out, we are going back to the drawing board,” Micheli said in a statement. “We are going back to the department and seeing if we can’t get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of.”