A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West was mixed.
Wyoming’s high marks may be surprising for a state that depends heavily on mining and fossil fuel extraction.
But according to the study, Wyoming state science standards did a superior job in addressing climate change and its causes.
“The standards themselves have a focus on thinking critically about human impacts and changes in climate that we’re seeing,” said Ana Houseal, an outreach science educator at the University of Wyoming.
Houseal has experience assisting Wyoming school districts in integrating statewide science standards. She thinks a classroom focus on local issues – some stemming from the extraction economy – may have contributed to the state’s A grade.
The just-released report card shows public schools in some of the most populous states use science standards that muddle climate science or flatout ignore the causes and consequences of global warming.
“We could be doing better to prepare today’s students to flourish in the warming world that they will inhabit, and we need to be,” said Glenn Branch with the National Center for Science Education.
The NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network, both non-profit organizations, are behind the report.
Colorado climate science standards scored an A-minus. Nevada and New Mexico both earned B-plus grades. Idaho, Montana and Utah all ranked in the C to C-plus range.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.