Connecticut state lawmaker proposes bill requiring schools to teach climate change

Connecticut state lawmaker proposes bill requiring schools to teach climate change
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A Connecticut state lawmaker is proposing a bill to require public schools to teach climate change, according to The Associated Press

“A lot of schools make the study of climate change an elective, and I don’t believe it should be an elective,” state Rep. Christine Palm (D) told the AP. “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.”

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The bill would mandate public schools throughout the state to begin teaching climate change in elementary school. The AP notes that Connecticut already has science standards that include guidance to teach climate change, but that specific curriculum is left up to districts. 

But this bill is believed to be the first to put the requirement to teach climate change into law, according to the National Center for Science Education. The AP notes a similar bill in Connecticut failed to get approval during the last legislative session.

Some have questioned whether the bill is completely necessary given the state's adoption of the 2015 of the Next Generation Science Standards. Those standards recommend that students be taught about climate change beginning in middle school. 

Nineteen states, as well as Washington, D.C., have adopted those standards, according to AP. 

“I do believe if the state has adopted standards, you’re teaching those standards, you’re going to be assessed on those standards,” Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, told the news outlet. “If you’re a district in Connecticut, your curriculum is addressing it already.”

But Palm was adamant that legislation like this was important given the importance of the issue. 

“I’d love to see poetry be mandated. That’s never going to happen,” she said. “That’s not life or death.”