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Connecticut Bill Would Mandate Teaching Kids About Climate Change

March 8, 2019

A bill introduced in the Connecticut legislature would mandate climate change be taught to young children in government schools statewide.

A bill introduced in the Connecticut legislature would mandate climate change be taught to young children in government schools statewide.

State Rep. Christine Palm (D-Chester) introduced House Bill 5011, “An Act Concerning the Teaching of Climate Change in Public Schools,” in January. H.B. 5011 would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to require the teaching of climate change in government schools beginning in elementary school.

A similar Senate bill that would have mandated the teaching of climate change failed to pass the state legislature, in 2018.

Climate Education Now

Connecticut is one of 19 states and Washington, D.C. that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in cooperation with 26 state education agencies. Released in 2013, NGSS introduces global climate change as a core topic in Earth and space science classes beginning in middle school, although the specifics of the curriculum and its instruction are left up to individual districts.

In 2018, Connecticut enacted a law reinforcing NGSS which allowed, but did not require, teaching climate change in government schools.

Palm says current law and education standards do not go far enough and the state should require schools to teach climate education at an earlier age.

“A lot of schools make the study of climate change an elective, and I don’t believe it should be an elective,” Palm told the Associated Press upon introducing the bill. “I think it should be mandatory, and I think it should be early so there’s no excuse for kids to grow up ignorant of what’s at stake.”

‘Wading Clumsily Into Details’

Legislators should not be directing classroom science education, says Scott Shepard, director of public policy and research at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.

“Legislators are neither educators nor scientists,” said Shepard. “They should not be wading clumsily into details of curricular development in the service of fashionable political posturing.

“Neither is the Connecticut legislature the sort of supple, responsible body that can be trusted to revise its sentiments and instructions to follow scientific advances,” Shepard said. “Had a similar bill been passed in 1975, today’s Connecticut schoolchildren would no doubt be forced to listen in science class to harangues about imminent global cooling.”

Legislative Countermeasure

Not everyone in Connecticut’s General Assembly is on board with schools being forced to teach climate change. State Rep. John Piscopo (R-Thomaston) has introduced a bill to eliminate climate change materials from NGSS.

“Rather than mandating increased climate indoctrination, we should be repealing the law Connecticut already adopted allowing the unbalanced teaching of global warming in our schools,” Piscopo said. “The climate change curriculum pushed in these laws assumes global warming is caused by humans and the results will be disastrous. However, copious research throws doubt on both those points.

“The public has been hoodwinked concerning the causes and consequences of climate change,” Piscopo said. “The science is not settled, and the legislature should not force schools to teach it is. Our children deserve better.”

Arianna Wilkerson (AWilkerson@heartland.org) is a state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.

Official Connections

State Rep. Christine Palm (D-Chester): http://www.housedems.ct.gov/Palm; Christine.Palm@cga.ct.gov

State Rep. John Piscopo (R-Thomaston): https://www.cthousegop.com/piscopo/main/; John.Piscopo@cga.ct.gov

Author
Arianna Wilkerson worked in government relations at The Heartland Institute from 2017 - 2019.