Climate Change Science Poised to Enter Nation’s Classrooms

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New stan­dards rec­om­mend teach­ing man-made glob­al warm­ing in all sci­ence class­es. Some text­book pub­lish­ers to incor­po­rate cur­ricu­lum immediately.


[The Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards, writ­ten with 26 states and set to be released this month, rec­om­mend teach­ing the sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus of human-caused cli­mate change in all sci­ence class­es. The nation’s largest edu­ca­tion pub­lish­ers are already study­ing how to incor­po­rate them into their mate­ri­als. Cred­it: wood­ley­won­der­works, flickr]

New nation­al sci­ence stan­dards that make the teach­ing of glob­al warm­ing part of the pub­lic school cur­ricu­lum are slat­ed to be released this month, poten­tial­ly end­ing an era in which cli­mate skep­ti­cism has been allowed to seep into the nation’s classrooms.

The Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards were devel­oped by the Nation­al Research Coun­cil, the Nation­al Sci­ence Teach­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence, the non­prof­it Achieve and more than two dozen states. The lat­est draft rec­om­mends that edu­ca­tors teach the evi­dence for man-made cli­mate change start­ing as ear­ly as ele­men­tary school and incor­po­rate it into all sci­ence class­es, rang­ing from earth sci­ence to chem­istry. By eighth grade, stu­dents should under­stand that “human activ­i­ties, such as the release of green­house gas­es from burn­ing fos­sil fuels, are major fac­tors in the cur­rent rise in Earth’s mean sur­face tem­per­a­ture (glob­al warm­ing),” the stan­dards say.

They’re “rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” said Mark McCaf­frey, pro­grams and pol­i­cy direc­tor of the Nation­al Cen­ter for Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion (NCSE), a non­prof­it that defends evo­lu­tion and cli­mate edu­ca­tion and oppos­es the teach­ing of reli­gious views as science.

The 26 states that helped write the stan­dards are expect­ed to adopt them. Anoth­er 15 or so have indi­cat­ed they may accept them—meaning cli­mate change instruc­tion could make its way into class­rooms in 40-plus states.

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