Climate science literacy bills in Washington fail

05.13.2019

A pair of identical bills in the Washington state legislature aimed at "establishing a comprehensive initiative to increase learning opportunities and improve educational outcomes in climate science literacy," House Bill 1496 and Senate Bill 5576, died in committee when the legislature adjourned on April 29, 2019.

Affirming that "knowledge, skills, and opportunities in science literacy, emphasizing climate science, should be increased for all students in Washington," both bills proposed to replace a reference to "environment" with a reference to "environmental and sustainability standards" in a section of the Washington state code listing required areas of instruction for the state's public schools, thus placing a new emphasis on sustainability. Both bills also proposed to establish a grant program for nonprofit community-based organizations and educational service districts to provide teacher training in the Next Generation Science Standards, "including climate change standards."

House Bill 1496 never received a committee hearing; Senate Bill 5576 was approved by the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education and passed to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which took no action. In 2018, Washington enacted a bill that similarly funded teacher training in the NGSS's climate standards.