In today’s political cycle, each day brings a dizzying (and often nauseating) storm of bad news. The problem is, the storm isn’t passing any time soon. So it will take every one of us to fight for our basic rights to clean air, clean water, and a liveable climate. To hold off the political forces of evil, for now and in the future, our educational system must teach our children the scientific facts of climate change.
In Idaho, legislators in the House Education Committee went directly against those facts when they decided to strip their state’s education standards of any references to human caused climate change. For years they had been working to update Idaho’s years old science standards. By denying the agreement of 98% of world scientists, lawmakers decided to reject the inclusion of climate change. Many states have already done their adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS. But Idaho lawmakers, such as Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) said language that mentioned human activities have “significantly” altered the biosphere was “troublesome to some people.”
Rep. Scott Syme (R-Caldwell) went so far as to say that he didn’t care if students concluded the earth is flat– as long as it’s their own conclusion. After Syme’s statement, the House voted to strip the science standards of any mention of climate change. As of February 2018, Idaho is the only state in the union to do so.
That’s when the activism kicked into high gear to intervene. Parents, students, and teachers teamed up to push for the inclusion of climate change science in Idaho’s science standards. And like we have seen lately, much of the activism came from the kids themselves.
Emily Her, 17, a senior at Timberline High School in Boise, started a petition to support her right to an education that includes climate change in her science education.
Teacher Erin Stuzman framed the issue as an equity issue for her students for not having access to accurate scientific information in their educations. She cited the constant barrage of anti-science views and materials.
“When you teach environmental science, you’re constantly being discredited,” Erin Stutzman, a science teacher at Timberline High School told the New York Times. Erin’s school had been mailed anti-science materials from the Heartland Institute, a group that denies the reality of human-induced climate change.
According to a PBS report, teachers, community members, students, and parents spoke out in droves during an education committee hearing. Thankfully, after a protracted back and forth, and public outcry, the Senate education committee took public comment, scientific fact and the activism of parents, teachers and students into consideration and decided to put back the mentions of climate change into the state’s science curriculum, providing a level of equity in the access to fact-based information in the science curriculum for all of Idaho’s students. Overruling the House committee’s actions, they adopted the standards with climate change language in tact.
As a teacher, it seems ridiculous to me that it has come to this. It is truly up to us to each and every one of us to protect the rights of our children’s educations, as several states continue to threaten to pull climate change from their standards. Unfortunately, in this anti-science political climate, these assaults on our children’s education are not going to end anytime soon. Yet, we can be proud of our children as they lead the way…
“It was definitely a group effort, and I was really happy that it paid off and that they decided to listen to us,” said student, Emily Her.