Conservative members of Utah’s state school board this week compared themselves to famed astronomer Galileo in their failed efforts to prevent the enactment of new science standards on topics such as evolution, climate change, and even the age of the Earth.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that conservative school board members raised multiple objections to new science standards over fears that Utah students would not be exposed to “both sides” of the “debate” over evolution and climate change, which the vast majority of scientists believe are real phenomena.
“There’s differences of opinions,” school board member Alisa Ellis said during a meeting this week. “It doesn’t mean someone is unintelligent or uninformed or belongs in a garbage can. But let’s teach both sides of the issues.”
Ellis objected to lesson plans that ask students to prove that climate change is being caused by human activity, while board member Jennie Earl wanted to strike language from the standards saying that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. And board member Lisa Cummins said she’d like to see children study whether water vapor, rather than carbon, was responsible for climate change.
“Galileo was mocked and ridiculed,” Cummins said in justifying her stance. “If we shut down that discussion, that’s not critical thinking.”
The conservative board members lost their final battle to change the standards, however, and the board held an 11-to-4 vote in favor of the new standards.