Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
High school students participate in the Climate Action March on September 8, 2018. Photo: Fabrice Florin
Teaching kids about climate change in school is critical and a growing group of teachers around the country are pushing for school boards to make this curriculum mandatory. Park Guthrie, who teaches sixth grade at a school in Occidental, California decided to take action and founded Schools for Climate Action (S4CA), doing so right before the Tubbs fire ravaged Sonoma County in 2017. As a representative of the Pacific faction of the National School Board Association, he drafted a measure for the NSBA specifically advocating for disaster relief funding, urging a reduction in carbon emissions, and encouraging states to adopt climate change curriculum. To the dismay of many, the Florida delegation (representing one of the most climate-ravaged states in the nation) defeated the measure and stripped all mention of climate change from the proposed text, instead changing it into a “natural disaster resolution.” This story isn’t unique, school boards even in states like California have been apprehensive to take a stand on climate change for fear of being “too political.”
Guthrie’s highschool-aged son Kai told Nexus Media that “We know that climate change is not political. [School board associations] are advocating at the state level for policy to help school boards and to help, by extension, school children. To ignore climate change because certain members of their organization might feel uncomfortable, they’re actually helping the people in power continue to think it’s okay to not do anything about it.”
Currently climate curriculum is dependent on a patchwork of state and city legislation–for instance, Portland, Oregon has banned textbooks that cast doubt on climate change while Idaho has stripped climate change from its school guidelines. Nexus Media also explained that while climate silence may pervade national organizations, grassroots action is happening in schools — fast:
In March, dozens of students, parents and teachers, including Guthrie and Kai, traveled to Washington, DC to deliver climate resolutions to every member of Congress and to meet with education advocates.
While an increasing number of student councils are also adopting their own resolutions to target lawmakers on climate action.
Why This Matters: If school boards exist to support schools and education then skirting the subject of climate change in the curriculum and not acknowledging how it affects the local community is not acceptable. Not only does climate change threaten the planet children will inherit but the anxiety that comes with worrying about climate change also threatens their mental health. Just as any other science is taught in school to teach students about how the world works, climate change must be part and parcel of this basic education and conservative special interests shouldn’t get to challenge it. Especially in states like California and Texas, school-aged children are losing their homes due to wildfires or storms, or have friends who are direct victims of climate disasters, these kids need resources to cope with and understand what’s happening around them. Climate curriculum isn’t political, on the contrary, it’s negligent if it’s not taught in schools. School boards must step up to ensure American children are receiving the knowledge they need to face the future of a warming planet. One thing’s for sure, climate education in the United States is not making the grade and school boards need to be doing more to change this.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer Climate change is, of course, a global phenomenon, but out of the contiguous United States, the Northeast is experiencing it particularly severely. As Kate Olson recently reported in Civil Eats, farmers in Maine are “struggl[ing]” with this “new, harsher climate reality” that includes even more deeply unpredictable weather events […]
by Julia Pyper, host and producer of Political Climate John Podesta has had a long and distinguished career in American politics. The veteran Democrat official recalls a time when Members of Congress were open to working across the political aisle, the debate was healthy and the resulting policies were less prone to repeal. But today […]
As John Schwartz reported for the New York Times, for more than 40 years, scientists have had an idea of how much greenhouse gases will warm our planet. They’ve expressed the answer as a range of possible temperature increases, between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, that will result from carbon dioxide levels doubling from preindustrial […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.