American Students Need to Learn Climate Science
Communities across the country are already dealing with the consequences of climate change, from droughts to floods and extreme storms. In order to be prepared to address the challenges posed by climate change, young people need to understand the science of climate change and how it can inform societal decisions.
Yet far too few students in America are learning about climate change. As climate risks continue to grow, it is critical that every student in America understand the many different scientific disciplines that contribute to our understanding of climate change. Students need a foundation in climate science in order to identify solutions.
Next Generation Science Standards
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are an updated set of science education standards for K-12 students that include climate science for all students beginning in 8th grade. The NGSS were developed by leading scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, and have widespread support among educators and business leaders.
Rapid adoption of the NGSS in states across the country is the surest way to ramp up climate literacy in America. The NGSS have been adopted by 11 states so far, including California, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia.
What’s Happening in the States
Unfortunately, the inclusion of climate science in the NGSS has led some politicians and ideologues, many of whom receive significant funding from those opposed to action on climate change to try to block adoption of the standards. These well-organized opponents are using stealth and sneaky tactics, such as amendments to budget bills without public debate, to deny students climate science education.
State legislators in Wyoming, for example, attached an amendment to the state budget bill that prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting, or even considering, the NGSS. State Rep. Matt Teeters, who authored the budget amendment and Ron Micheli, the chairman of the State Board of Education, have both stated that teaching kids about climate science would harm the state's fossil fuel economy. Thousands of Wyoming parents, students, teachers and community members are fighting back. If you are a Wyoming resident, show your support by signing this open letter.
When concerned citizens speak up on this issue, legislators listen. In Oklahoma, legislators attempted to block adoption of new science standards modeled on the NGSS to stop students from learning about climate change. But parents and science teachers rallied to kill an anti-NGSS bill, and new standards were recently adopted by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Numerous other states are currently contemplating adoption of NGSS, including Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, South Dakota, and New Mexico. Check back for updates and opportunities to take action in these and other states! Please sign the Climate Science Students Bill of Rights to be kept informed of efforts to ensure that students across the country benefit from a 21st century science education that include climate science.