District 51 School Board Rejects Controversial Global Warming Petition

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) - The District 51 School Board passed a resolution Tuesday rejecting a petition that asked them to stop the teaching of man-made global warming as fact.

During the meeting, board member Diann Rice read the following statement:

"New Colorado academic standards for science as adopted by the Colorado Board of Education require that climate change be addressed in science classes. These standards are available at the Colorado Department of Education website. The board expects that differing points of view will be presented in the classroom. However, we will adhere to content standards adopted by the state.

We further believe that the teaching of good stewardship of our environment is an essential element of our curriculum.

While the board welcomes and respects all public comment at our meetings and embraces different differing points of view, our mission is the education of youth in our community."

The petition was started by local attorney Rose Pugliese, who says students she works with in the Young Republicans club told her they were concerned that their teachers were showing the film "An Inconvenient Truth" in class -- and not providing materials that refute global warming.

Pugliese turned in the petition to the school board during their May 25th meeting with 700 signatures. She attended Tuesday night's meeting.

"You know, I'm not going to say [the board's decision] is not something I expected," said Pugliese. "What we really wanted to do was bring it to the attention of the school board that these things are happening in our classrooms. Whether or not they believe it's happening I guess is an issue."

She says on a positive note, she's glad the attention her petition has received has got people talking about this issue, which she hopes can be a stepping stone for change in the future.

"This is an issue nationwide," said Pugliese. "It's getting national attention for a reason. People know this is going on in our schools and I think we need to bring those people together and start standing up for our kids."

Opponents of the petition also attended Tuesday's meeting and thanked the school board for their decision.

"I applaud the school board," said Richard Alward, a local scientist. "I think they took a principled stand and they stood up for rigorous science in our classrooms. I think that's an important thing for them to have done."

Alward says too often people don't like the policy implications that come about from sound science -- and rather than target the policy makers they go after the science. While he believes an issue like global warming should be discussed in the public arena, he doesn't believe the politics surrounding it should be brought into the classroom.

"We don't teach that smoking is good and healthy as if it was the other side -- we just know that's wrong," said Alward. "What we have right now are people that want to delay certain policies who are pretending that their political arguments, their public relations arguments are science."

The board also rejected a second petition turned in by Pugliese asking them to bar teachers from bringing partisan politics in the classroom. Board members said they agreed that teachers should not be imparting their political views on students -- however, they felt the district already has the proper policies in place that allow parents and students to file formal complaints against teachers who do that.


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