Evolution and climate education update: March 30, 2018

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Glenn Branch

Mar 30, 2018, 10:17:41 AM3/30/18
to ncse-news
Dear friends of NCSE,

Good news from Washington, Idaho, and Wisconsin. And a new poll on
public opinion about climate change.


When Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 6032 into law on March 27,
2018, the state of Washington committed to provide $4 million "to
provide grants ... for science teacher training in the [N]ext
[G]eneration [S]cience [S]tandards" -- adopted in 2013 -- "including
training in the climate science standards."

In a press release, E3 Washington, the state's association for
environmental and sustainability educators, described the signing as
"a major victory for climate education and K-12 students across the
state," adding, "With this bill, Washington also advances to leading
the nation in K-12 climate literacy having become the first state in
the country to dedicate significant support for climate education. It
is also the largest general fund allocation for environmental
education ever included in a [g]overnor's budget and approved by a
state legislature."

"It's important for states that are improving the treatment of climate
science in their state science standards to remember that their
teachers need to equipped with the knowledge and knowhow to teach
accordingly," commented NCSE's Brad Hoge. "It's great to see
Washington recognizing and taking steps to meet the need."

For Washington's Senate Bill 6032 (PDF), visit:

For E3 Washington's press release, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Washington, visit:


When the Idaho legislature adjourned sine die on March 28, 2018, a
three-year-long struggle over new state science standards ended, with
a generally positive outcome.

As NCSE previously reported, in 2016, the legislature rejected a
proposed set of science standards altogether, ostensibly on the
grounds that there was not adequate opportunity for public comment.
But there is reason to think that hostility toward the inclusion of
evolution and climate change in the standards played a role in the

In 2017, when the standards were again under consideration, the House
Education Committee voted to remove references to climate change and
human impact on the environment, and the Senate Education Committee,
and subsequently the legislature as a whole, followed suit.

The standards were then revised slightly to qualify the acknowledgment
of human responsibility for recent climate change. The drafting
committee was evidently "trying to navigate [between] a rock and a
hard place," as NCSE's Glenn Branch told the Spokane, Washington,
Inlander (June 8, 2017).

In 2018, the revised version of the standards underwent review by the
legislature. In February 2018, the House Education Committee voted to
remove a reference to climate change and all of the "supporting
material" content. But the Senate Education Committee refused to
follow suit, instead voting 6-3 to approve the standards as submitted.

Owing to what Idaho Education News (February 22, 2018) aptly described
as "the [l]egislature's arcane process of rules review," the Senate
Education Committee should have had the last word: the two chambers of
the legislature would have to agree in order for the standards to be

Nevertheless, the House Education Committee introduced two measures,
House Concurrent Resolutions 60 and 61, which, if adopted by both
chambers, would have deleted the material that the committee voted to
reject from the proposed standards. These resolutions never came to a
floor vote.

The new standards, complete with the revised treatment of climate
change, will remain in place for the next five years.

For the story in the Inlander, visit:

For the story in Idaho Education News, visit:

For Idaho's House Concurrent Resolutions 60 and 61 (PDF), visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Idaho, visit:


A pair of "Campus Free Speech Acts," Assembly Bill 299 and Senate Bill
250, died in the Wisconsin legislature on March 28, 2018, when they
failed to meet a deadline.

The bills in question would have required the board of regents of the
University of Wisconsin system to adopt a policy on free expression
with various provisions affecting students, faculty, speakers, the
public, and the institutions that are part of the system themselves,
and to appoint a council on free expression to report on free
expression issues to the board, the legislature, and the governor.

Judging from the text of the bills, science education would not have
obviously been affected. But during a committee hearing on May 11,
2017, two of the sponsors of AB 299, Jesse Kremer (R-District 59) and
Robin Vos (R-District 63), suggested that the teaching of evolution
and climate change might be affected by the bill's passage, according
to the Capital Times (June 6, 2017). Kremer insisted that the earth is
6000 years old.

Before dying, AB 299 was passed by the Assembly on a 61-36 vote on
June 21, 2017; SB 250 died in the Senate Committee on Universities and
Technical Colleges.

For information about Wisconsin's Assembly Bill 299 and Senate Bill 250, visit:

For the story in the Capital Times, visit:

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Wisconsin, visit:


About two thirds of Americans overall realize that most scientists
think that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by human
activities, according to a new poll from Gallup. But the partisan
polarization of opinion on climate change continues to be clear.
Gallup suggests, "With Trump reversing many of his predecessors'
policies aimed at curbing warming, Democrats are feeling a greater
sense of urgency about the issue, while Republicans have either
remained as skeptical as they had been in the past or have become more

Asked "Just your impression, which of the one following statements do
you think is most accurate?" 66% of respondents preferred "most
scientists believe that global warming is occurring," 24% preferred
"most scientists believe that global warming is NOT occurring," and 6%
preferred "most scientists are unsure about whether global warming is
occurring or not," with 4% expressing no opinion. The "most scientists
believe that global warming" statement was preferred by 86% of
Democrats, 65% of independents, and 42% of Republicans.

Asked "And from what you have heard or read, do you believe increases
in the Earth's temperature over the last century are due more to the
effects of pollution from human activities or natural changes in the
environment that are not due to human activities?" 64% of respondents
chose the human activities response and 33% chose the natural changes
response, with 3% expressing no opinion. The human activities response
was preferred by 89% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 35% of

According to Gallup's report, the poll was conducted by telephone
interviews conducted March 1-8, 2018, with a random sample of 1,041
adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the
District of Columbia; the sample was weighted to correct for unequal
selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline
and cell users in the two sampling frames, and to match national
demographics. The maximum margin of sampling error for the total
sample was +/4 percent.

For Gallup's story about and report for the poll (PDF), visit:


Have you been visiting NCSE's blog recently? If not, then you've missed:

* Stephanie Keep examining a new report on perceptions of science in America:

For NCSE's blog, visit:

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website --
http://ncse.com -- where you can always find the latest news on
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971

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