The Washington Post reports that a wave of state bills from Connecticut to Florida are beginning to propose measures that would threaten the way that science and climate change are taught in U.S. classrooms. According to the National Center for Science Education, lawmakers are undermining the consensus surrounding global warming.
The bills have surfaced in reaction to young people worldwide who intend to skip school in order to demand government action on climate change. There has also been a renewed interest in Washington on a Green New Deal, which would eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.
Most of the new bills were introduced by state Republicans and would affect public schools in various ways, for example, removing climate science from statewide curriculum. While the bills may not necessarily pass, the wave of new bills is remarkable.
In Florida, for example, state Senator Dennis Baxley wants a bill passed which would require schools to teach “controversial theories and concepts” in science standards in a “factual, objective and balanced manner.” The bill does not define “controversial theories.”
Baxley said, “I’m not telling them what to teach... There is some language to make sure we teach different schools of thought. There are all kinds of areas as you know where everybody is not in complete agreement,” he told me. “It’s important for [students] to know the different schools of thought out there on science.”
Within the scientific community there is a strong consensus about the reality of climate change.
According to data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, there is overwhelming support for global warming to be included in classroom education. 79% of adults think schools should teach about climate change and its potential solutions. 83% of adults in Connecticut and 78% of adults in Florida support a climate education.
Representative Christine Palm said that she has “tremendous hope in Millennials and Gen Z and X kids who are in fact globally doing walkouts and changing what the United Nations is doing … Once you raise someone’s awareness to a problem and to what they can do about the problem, it empowers them to take a stand.”