Climate Change Education in Newton Schools
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Climate change is the most pressing emergency facing our earth. As habitats are destroyed, natural disasters become worse, and millions of people are left without food and water, finding solutions to the warming of our planet is imperative.
In a single semester, 9 million students in the United States were forced to miss school because of a natural disaster. Students experience the results of climate change on a first hand basis everyday, yet we lack the proper education to understand its causes, effects, and solutions. For example, a third of the United States population incorrectly believes that global warming and our current changing climate is due to natural causes, not the result of human action.
Today’s students are the future of innovation and leadership: we need the knowledge and resources to create, provide, and implement solutions to fix the greatest challenge of our generation. Though climate change has been an issue for decades, it has gained much needed attention and awareness in recent years, as the issue has escalated to a crisis. The effects of climate change are already becoming apparent, and we want to gain the knowledge needed to act. We are reading about weather events, watching young activists such as Greta Thunberg strike every week, perhaps attending the climate march, but we don’t have the standardized, encompassing curriculum necessary for such an important topic.
Some students grow up knowing about our deteriorating environment, others do not. Some teachers focus heavily on ecology and biodiversity, or the environmental movement and sustainability laws, others do not. Our schools should have a standard curriculum, bridging learning gaps to help all students reach the same level of knowledge.
Newton Public Schools has always been a trailblazer, and this issue is no different. Newton schools must uphold our district’s commitment to leading efforts towards equity and excellence in education by teaching students about climate change. Without education, it is easy to become apathetic or overwhelmed by the realities of climate change. Instead, we must be equipped with knowledge of the solutions that exist.
By signing my name, I believe that Newton Public Schools should include comprehensive mandated curricula about climate change starting in elementary school and continuing throughout middle and high school. I ask the Newton School Committee and Superintendent to take the following actions:
- Provide teachers with resources and materials related to climate change for all departments and grade levels
- Develop climate change curriculum modules that can be embedded within the current curriculum at appropriate points
- Offer teachers professional development opportunities to deepen their own knowledge about climate change
- Encourage and allow for teachers to develop lessons, with their peers, related to climate change during curriculum planning time.
Leiserowitz, A., Smith, N. & Marlon, J.R. (2010) Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change. Yale University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
Our Daily Planet, April 22, 2019: Climate Change Education Not Making the Grade
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