U.S. Educators Support Climate Denial Ban for Textbooks
The nearly three-million-member U.S. National Education Association has voted to adopt a climate change education plan from Portland, Oregon that bans climate denial in textbooks—and had previously drawn attacks from the Koch-backed Heartland Institute.
“Climate change education has spread across the country in fits and starts, as local and national politics have obscured the dissemination of teaching materials and professional development opportunities,” Fusion reports. “The NEA’s increased emphasis on teaching climate literacy will facilitate implementation of a nation-wide climate curriculum, something many environmentalists consider crucial in confronting global warming.”
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In May, Portland Public Schools resolved that “it is time for school districts to redefine what it means to educate students for a future of certain climate change.” Trustees added that “students should develop confidence and passion when it comes to making a positive difference in society, and come to see themselves as activists and leaders for social and environmental justice.”
One of the resolution’s authors, Bill Bigelow of the Zinn Education Project, said school curricula will only change if teachers, retired teachers, parents, students, and climate activists work together to make it happen.
“Climate justice means taking an approach that puts the lives of the most vulnerable at the centre of the curriculum,” he told Fusion correspondent Ari Phillips. “And climate justice means encouraging students to see themselves as activists—as people who can make a difference in the world, individually and collectively.”
He added that textbooks are tentative in the way they discuss climate because their publishers are afraid to lose business from larger jurisdictions where many elected officials are climate deniers. “Look at a typical textbook and there are often large number of ‘teacher advisors’ from Texas,” he said. “Texas is an enormous market, and the politics of the Texas board of education continues to play a role in what kids are taught throughout the country.”