December 17, 2022
Enshrining the curriculum in law insulates the subject from budget cuts and culture wars related to the climate crisis.
- Author: the Guardian
- Category: article
- URL: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2022/dec/17/climate-change-studies-connecticut
Starting next July, Connecticut will become one of the first states in America to mandate climate change studies across its public schools as part of its science curriculum.
The new law passed earlier this year comes as part of the state’s attempts to address concerns over the short duration – and in some cases, absence – of climate change studies in classrooms. The requirement follows in the footsteps of New Jersey, which in 2020 became the first state to mandate K-12 climate change education across its school districts.
Connecticut state representative Christine Palm
who is vice chair of the Connecticut general assembly’s environment committee, first launched her legislative efforts to pass a climate education mandate in 2018. Through various surveys and petitions, Palm found that to many students and educators, climate change education is either not being taught at all in schools or not being taught enough.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of K-12 science content standards, are currently adopted by Connecticut and include standards pertaining to climate change studies which more educators will rely on as the requirement kicks in next year. So far, only 20 states and DC have adopted the NGSS.
A global survey conducted last year amongst 10,000 children and young people across ten countries, including the US, found that 59% of respondents were very or extremely worried about the climate crisis. Over 50% reported feeling emotions including sadness, anxiousness, anger, powerlessness and guilt. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that they think the future is frightening.
“We absolutely have got to face it head on, and it starts when children are very young. We need to arm them with the tools to be part of a solution to a problem they had no hand in creating.”