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Most Americans Want Their Kids to Learn About Climate Change, But Some States Aren't Listening

Evidence over ignorance.

CARLY CASSELLA
13 APR 2018

An overwhelming majority of Americans want their kids to learn about climate change in school, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC).

Despite recent efforts to politicize the reality of climate change, a new study has found that across all 50 states, in both Republican and Democratic strongholds, people largely agree that climate science is a necessary subject.

 

Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they "somewhat" or "strongly" agree that schools should teach our children about the causes, consequences and potential solutions to global warming.

2018 TeachGW counties

Yet even though most Americans support climate education, lawmakers in several states are still arguing about whether climate change should be included in science education standards.

In Idaho, the debate has been raging for the past three years. Last year, Idaho became the only state in the US to successfully remove all references to climate change in its K through 12 science standards.

In 2018, after students literally begged to be taught the subject, Idaho restored climate change to its rightful place.

"Years later, me and my generation will be the ones that will have to deal with the … effects on the earth due to climate change or anything else that might be going on, whether or not we are to blame," testifed Ilah Hickman, a high school junior from Boise.

"Being put in such a role, I believe that we should be as prepared as ever to combat these changes."

 

But Idaho isn't the only state where students, teachers and pro-science advocates have had to stand up for climate science. At least nine other states in the nation have debated their own education standards, and many of those debates featured conversations about climate change.

The report suggests organizations like the Heartland Institute, which has been mailing climate denial lesson plans to teachers across the nation, have been feeding these debates.

Yet, as the new study reveals, public support for climate education in all nine of these states is majority strong.

2018 TeachGW states

Still, before climate change can truthfully be taught in schools, teachers need extra support and training in the subject. Because, unfortunately, recent research suggests many educators in the US are teaching it wrong.

For example, only 30 percent of middle school science teachers and only 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the extent of the scientific consensus surrounding climate change (spoiler: it's 97 percent of all publishing climate scientists).

Plus, for those teachers who do teach climate change, many suggest that the primary cause is ambiguous or uncertain. In the study, a whopping 30 percent of teachers said they were teaching their students that global warming is naturally caused. It is not.

Obviously, until teachers are brought up to speed with the latest climate facts, Americans will not be getting what they want: a science education that mirrors reality.

The study was published by the YPCCC.

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