Climate change education in New York

09.01.2017

As New York begins its transition to a new set of state science standards that contain climate change, the New York State School Boards Association issued a new report, "When Politics Enters the Classroom: Teaching Climate Change in Schools" (PDF), to prepare school leaders and educators for the changes and challenges ahead.

"[T]he question is not whether to address climate change in the curriculum, but how best to do so," the report explains, especially in light of the mismatch between the 97% consensus on anthropogenic global warming and the practice of middle and high school science teachers, as revealed by a national survey conducted by NCSE and researchers at Penn State.

NCSE was mentioned elsewhere in the report, with references to NCSE's Scientist in the Classroom project, which matches teachers with climate scientists in their classrooms, and NCSE's recommendation to make climate change education local, human, pervasive, and hopeful (see "Teaching Climate Change: Best Practices").

The report's recommendations are likely to be heeded. A survey conducted for the report between July 24 and August 2, 2017, asked 603 school board members in New York whether they suppose or oppose climate change being taught in New York's public schools: 70% of respondents supported it, while 16% opposed and 14% were not sure. 

Those who supported or were not sure about teaching climate change were asked whether they support or oppose schools teaching that humans contribute to climate change: 86% supported and 5% opposed, while 9% were not sure. Therefore, 72% of the whole pool of 603 respondents supported teaching that humans contribute to climate change.