Enshrining the curriculum in law insulates the subject from budget cuts and culture wars related to the climate crisis
Starting next July, Connecticut will become one of the first states in America to mandate climate change studies across its public schools as part of its science curriculum.
The new law passed earlier this year comes as part of the state’s attempts to address concerns over the short duration – and in some cases, absence – of climate change studies in classrooms. The requirement follows in the footsteps of New Jersey, which in 2020 became the first state to mandate K-12 climate change education across its school districts.
Currently, nearly 90% of public schools across Connecticut include climate change studies in their curriculums. However, by mandating it as part of state law from grades five to 12, climate education will effectively become protected from budget cuts and climate-denying political views at a time when education in the US has become a serious culture war battleground.
“The conservative turn in our country … often starts at a very hyper-local level of local town boards of education. There is this push towards anti-intellectualism, anti-science … anti-reason, and I didn’t want local boards of education to have the power to overturn the curriculum and say, ‘climate change is too political,’” Connecticut state representative Christine Palm told the Guardian.