Activist wants climate change out of standardized test

Rose Pugliese

The author of a petition asking local educators not to teach climate change as fact wants authors of the Colorado Student Assessment Plan test to follow the same guideline.

Local attorney and former School District 51 Board of Education candidate Rose Pugliese presented two petitions to the District 51 school board last month. One advocated the creation of a district-wide policy that would prohibit teaching man-made climate change as scientific fact. The other asked the district to prohibit teachers from injecting personal political views into instruction and grading.

Pugliese said stories that parents and students shared with her during her candidacy inspired her to create the petitions. During that time, a 10th-grade student told Pugliese he found a question on the CSAP test that he said he didn’t feel comfortable answering because the answer was global warming. A teacher later told Pugliese the question appeared on the ninth-grade CSAP test as well. Ninth- and 10th-graders take CSAP tests in reading, writing and math.

Pugliese said she doesn’t have a problem with a question about global warming as long as it doesn’t address man-made global warming.

“If there’s no issue, I’m not going to make an issue out of it. If it’s a fair question, that’s fine,” she said.

So far, Pugliese hasn’t been able to obtain a copy of the question she discussed with the student and teacher, but she has discussed possible ways to address the issue with members of the Colorado State Board of Education.

State board member Marcia Neal, who lives in Grand Junction and supports the petitions, said the board would have the power to remove a test question that a majority of board members found inappropriate. Neal said she has talked to assessment directors at the state and local level, and neither person knew of a test question involving global warming.

“I’d be surprised considering the tests are based on standards and the standards don’t address global warming,” Neal said, referring to the state’s curriculum standards. “If there indeed was a question (on global warming as fact), it was improper because it’s not in the standards.”

The Colorado Office of Standards and Assessment did not return a message Wednesday.

Pugliese said the petitions have “blown up into something we didn’t expect.” She said she may attend another District 51 Board of Education meeting later this summer if she doesn’t hear a board response to the petitions. The petitions were presented during a public comment portion of a board meeting. Board members usually do not respond to people who speak during that part of a meeting.

School Board member Greg Mikolai said the board may offer a public response to the petitions as early as Tuesday, the last time the board will meet until August.


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