How Should California Schools Teach Climate Change?

How Should California Schools Teach Climate Change?

One California lawmaker is gaining momentum with a bill that would include “climate change” among the science topics in public schools. Senate Bill 908, authored by Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, would include climate change in science textbooks approved for California public schools.

“You can’t have a science curriculum that is relevant and current if it doesn’t deal with the science behind climate change,” Simitian said. “This is a phenomenon of global importance and our kids ought to understand the science behind that phenomenon.”

Some legislators, however, counter that the science on global warming is not clear, and others worry the bill would inject environmental propaganda into classrooms.

“I find it disturbing that this mandate to teach this theory is not accompanied by a requirement that the discussion be science-based and include a critical analysis of all sides of the subject,” said Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, during the Senate debate.

Another opponent, Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, said he wants guarantees that the views of global warming skeptics will be taught.

“Some wouldn’t view them as skeptics. Some would view them as the right side of the issue,” said Denham, an almond farmer who also runs a plastics recycling business. “We don’t have complete factual information yet.”

Sen. Simitian noted that his bill would not dictate what to teach or in what grades, but rather would require the state Board of Education and state Department of Education to decide both. That comes as little consolation to those who are called skeptics, and worse, by the global warming alarmists.

Although global warming is mentioned in California classes about weather, it is currently not required to be covered in all textbooks, said the head of the California Science Teachers Association.

“This is a great idea. I don’t think there’s any reason to talk about politics,” said Christine Bertrand, the group’s executive director. “There’s no argument that there is climate change. The argument is how much is caused by the activities of mankind.”

Bertrand said teachers would have plenty to teach: Rising levels of carbon dioxide, how temperatures are measured globally, and what is known about global warming. The bill, however, is silent on the very political aspect of what should be done, if anything, and how to address any warming that, in fact, is caused by human activity.

How that should be taught in schools remains open to question. The measure does not include any requirements that teachers even be scientifically knowledgeable about the topic. Senate Bill 908 is also silent on the important correlated topic of economics.

What will climate change cost? What will be the effect of politically motivated actions on the economy of California? That is something students and legislators alike should be learning.

The state Senate approved SB 908, Jan. 30 by a 26-13 vote. It now awaits a vote in the appropriations committee in the Assembly.

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.