- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - University of Wyoming trustees have declined to take a position on a set of K-12 science education standards that have been rejected by the Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead.

Trustees and state lawmakers heard a presentation on the Next Generation Science Standards on Thursday by elementary and early childhood education professor Alan Buss. The trustees didn’t take any action after Trustee Dave True suggested the university keep away from the issue.

“This is in the political arena right now, and appears to be a fairly hot potato,” True said.

Last winter, the Legislature passed and Mead signed a budget bill with a provision rejecting the standards. Some legislators didn’t like how the standards endorsed the theory of man-made climate change.

The standards also endorse the theory of biological evolution - another point of contention.

Recently, the state Board of Education voted to halt the development of new science standards entirely until the politics over them cools down.

Thursday’s meeting was the second day in which lawmakers and university trustees waded into K-12 education matters.

On Wednesday, the legislators questioned the caliber of the College of Education, Wyoming’s top institution for training future K-12 teachers.

Mary Kay Hill, a policy adviser to Mead, said the university isn’t supplying most of Wyoming’s qualified teachers. State Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, said he agreed.

“I hope I don’t rile feathers when I say that, because I love the university,” said Coe, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

University Trustee Warren Lauer said considering those comments, the university should study the College of Education.

“I think it behooves us to ask our administration to somehow, let’s take a real close look at that,” Lauer said.

The College of Education is headed by interim Dean Michael Day, a former College of Education faculty member. Dean Kay Persichitte stepped down in October and a search for a permanent dean is in the planning stages, the Casper Star-Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1p1j6Sv).

Among the critiques of the college, was a concern that too many students need to take remedial courses once they’ve been admitted, said Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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