Finally! Climate Change Introduced to U.S. Science Curriculum

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that U.S. students will for the first time receive instruction on climate change following the adoption last Tuesday of new science education guidelines. The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century. (Even though some extreme right-wingers choose to deny that reality.)

The bad news is that states are not required to adopt these standards, even though 26 states, including Arizona, California, Iowa, Kansas and New York, have committed to seriously considering them.

The Next Generation Science Standards are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.

The consortium said the guidelines were intended to combat widespread scientific ignorance, to standardize teaching among states, and to raise the number of high school graduates who choose scientific and technical majors in college.

This is critical for the economic future of America, as the U.S. continues to lag in comparison to other countries: in a 2009 global education survey, for example,  Shanghai ranked number one, while the United States came in 26th, out of 65 places worldwide in combined scores for math, science and reading.

One reason for this is that in many states, extensive scientific instruction does not begin until high school. A recent survey of 923 elementary teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area found that 80 percent of those teachers devote less than an hour a week to science, and another 16 percent spend no time on science.

In many ways, these science standards resemble a separate set of guidelines known as the Common Core, which are changing instruction in  English Language Arts and Mathematics: the idea is to  impose and raise standards, with a focus on critical thinking and primary investigation. To date, 45 states and Washington D.C. have adopted the Common Core standards.

Similarly, these new science standards also emphasize hands-on learning and critical thinking, rather than memorizing facts.

From The Guardian:

“Climate change is not a political issue and climate change is not a debate. It is science. It is strongly supported heavily research science, and our hope is that teachers will not see this as a political issue or a political debate,” [Mario Molina, deputy director at the Alliance for Climate Education] said.

He said the new standards will help guide teachers on teaching climate change. However, it was critical that science organisations offer support and resources to teachers who may not be as familiar with climate change as with other areas of science.

Predictably, there was immediate opposition to these new standards.

From The New York Times:

For instance, as the standards were being drafted, a group called Citizens for Objective Public Education, which lists officers in Florida and Kansas, distributed a nine-page letter attacking them. It warned that the standards ignored evidence against evolution, promoted “secular humanism,” and threatened to “take away the right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

There will be resistance, predictably from states such as Oklahoma and Texas, but at least this is a step forward.

What do you think?


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Photo Credit: thinkstock


Elisa F.
Elisa F5 years ago

Glad to hear it! Thanks for sharing.

Kristin Love
Kristin Love5 years ago

It's the Children who are inheriting this Planet as their Home. They should know what it is that they are receiving in all it's aspects and what they are responsible for, everyone's actions are what is creating the Planet we live on today.
YAY!! For a new Science Curriculum and one can only hope that it will be adopted by ALL the States in this Country eventually.

David J.
David J5 years ago

Yes, Lawrence, and that is called the scientific method upon which all we consider fact rests.
We are in agreement.

ali a.
ali a5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Frances Darcy
Frances D5 years ago

Climate change, a very important issue and will always be with us so the youth need to learn so we can all try to do something, before we destroy this beautiful planet.

Monique D.
Mon D5 years ago

about time

Christine W.
Christine W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

I am so glad that the issue is being taken more seriously.

Rebecca Mesa
Rebecca Mesa5 years ago

My little car is 26 years old, runs beautifully, and I wouldn't trade it for any of the new cars out today. The only thing automatic on it is the seat belt, and that was the first thing to break........only a couple of years ago. It gets great gas mileage. It's not as pretty as it used to be, but it's been very good to me and I will drive it as long as it will let me.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld5 years ago

Oil could very well peak by 2030. However, this has been predicted endless times in the past (the most recent being 2009, which did not occur). If it does occur, then production will start decreasing slowly, such that supply will still exist (albeit more expenses) for decades to come.