Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Republicans Censor Climate Information in Schools

Climate denial is alive and well in the GOP. Republican legislators are conspiring to deprive kids of a science based climate education. In at least one state they have already succeeded. Earlier this year Republican lawmakers in Idaho voted to remove all fact-based references to climate from the state's science curriculum.

The state's House Education Committee voted for the new K-12 statewide science standards in February.  Republican legislator Rep. Scott Syme said he wanted the standard to include what he called "both sides of the debate". However, rather than invoke the baseless claims that constitute the other side of the argument lawmakers opted to excise all mention of climate change.

The level of ignorance among Idaho's Republican lawmakers is staggering. The state's political elite appear to be utterly unaware of even the most rudimentary climate science. They are equally oblivious of the climate connection in the spate of increasingly intense forest fires in the state. Their confusion may be explained by the fact that they get what little information they have from highly dubious sources.

House Resources Committee Chairman Dell Raybould, told Idaho Falls Post Register reporter Bryan Clark that his source for climate change science was conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. In an email Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, said, "global warming ranks right up there with Al Gore’s phony ozone scare. I hope the Legislature enacts legislation to eliminate this ridiculous nonsense from all our textbooks."

This is not the first crack at climate censorship from Republicans in Idaho. In 2016 Idaho lawmakers rejected proposed science standards because they attributed climate change to human activity.

Schemes to censor climate information were also hatched by GOP lawmakers in Kentucky and Oklahoma but they were ultimately abandoned. While Idaho may be the only state to censor climate information in schools, there are many states with science curricula that contain very little climate information. This includes Alabama, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. It is no coincidence that all of these states have Republican majorities.

Support for climate censorship in the Idaho legislature followed party lines. With 88 Republicans and only 17 Democrats the outcome was preordained. Almost all Democrats voted against the measure including the House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel.

"School should be a place where facts are shared, not suppressed," Rubel said. "Not only do we owe it to our children to teach them 21st Century science, but we owe it to the farmers, foresters, and citizens of Idaho to take this issue seriously and not bury our heads in the sand."

Organizations that respect science-based climate information indicated they were apauled by the decision in the Gem state. In April the Weather Channel called out Republicans in the Idaho state legislature for censoring fact-based climate information.

Some public school educators vowed to keep teaching the facts despite changes to the standard. Some district leaders have publically stated that teachers in their juridictions will continue providing their students with science-based information.

"In the Boise School District we will continue to teach climate change and investigate human impacts on biodiversity even though they are not mentioned in the standards," said Chris Taylor, Boise School District’s science curriculum director.

While Idaho legislators are burying their kids heads in the sand other states are adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, which include accurate climate science information. These standards were crafted by 26 states and a number of science and education organizations. So far, almost two dozen states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

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Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 350 posts covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, green school buildings, student eco-initiatives, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

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