Climate change education in the Wall Street Journal


"After many years in which evolution was the most contentious issue in science education, climate change is now the battle du jour in school districts across the country," the Wall Street Journal (March 11, 2012) reports (subscription required). And the battle is likely to heighten with the release, expected in April 2012, of a draft of a new set of model science standards based on the National Research Council's A Framework for K-12 Science Education; global climate change is a component of one of the Framework's core ideas.

"Most climate experts accept those notions as settled science. But they are still debated by some scientists, helping to fuel conflicts between parents and teachers," the Wall Street Journal observes, citing recent controversies in Portola Valley, California, and Clifton Park, New York, over the teaching of climate change. NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott told the newspaper that like evolution, climate change is "settled science," adding, "We shouldn't fight the culture wars in the high-school classroom."

States will individually decide whether or not to adopt the new standards. But the Wall Street Journal predicts that "the approach to climate change could be a sticking point for some states," citing South Dakota's legislative resolution that climate change should be taught as a "theory rather than a proven fact." Martin Storksdieck at the National Research Council replied that students would be misled by such a pedagogical approach: "What would be conveyed to them is not how science works — it's how politics works."