Are your kids learning about climate change at school? Are they learning there are “two sides” to the issue?
Some states are currently working to create legislation to limit the teaching of climate science in public schools across the country. According to an Associated Press article, this is already happening in Connecticut, Oklahoma and Virginia, and may be coming to your state soon.
Most educators aim to help their students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to determine opinion from fact. Would you say that there are two sides to the issue of whether the earth is flat? Or that a cat is a mammal? These are proven scientific facts, similar to the proven concept of climate change, which 90-100% of scientists and scientific researchers agree on. Climate Change is not a “two sides” issue. Yet, it is framed by politicians like Oklahoma’s Senator David Bullard, as teaching students to “see both sides of an issue and deliberate.”
Who is behind this kind of reductive thinking? Remember the Heartland Institute? They are the Koch-funded group that sent thousands of copies of Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming to science teachers across the United States in. Now, Heartland plans to take their misinformation to students by developing a “reference” book about the links between climate change and extreme weather. Another group, the Discovery Institute, based in Seattle with unidentified funding, is advising politicians on the school climate science issue.
What will the politicians propose? Language for teachers to address the strengths and weaknesses of global warming, and to teach “alternatives to controversial theories.” Florida’s Senator Dennis Baxley, is onboard: “There is really no established science on most things, you’ll find.”
No established science on most things? How about that smoking is bad? Or, that asbestos kills people, for starters?
The director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, Michael Mann, called these legislative proposals “dangerous, bad faith efforts to undermine scientific findings that the fossil fuel industry or fundamentalist religious groups don’t want to hear.”
Thankfully, The Next Generation Science Standards, which have been adopted in 19 states and the District of Columbia, include human caused climate change science in the standards.
Teaching about climate change should not be political. Teaching climate science is fact.
As a teacher and a mom, here’s what I want to ask: Who do you want deciding what to teach your kids about climate science: science educators and curriculum developers, or climate change denying politicians?