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Are schools doing enough to prepare kids to meet the challenges of the warming world they’ll inherit?

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LA Johnson

This show originally aired on November 22, 2021.

Millions of children are miseducated in climate science due to school curriculum and instruction that fails to accurately or adequately address climate change, connect the dots about the level of human responsibility or prepare them to meet the looming challenges of a warming world. At its worst, this miseducation instills outright climate denialism.

In her new book, award-winning journalist Katie Worth asks: “Why are so many American children learning misinformation about climate change?”

An analysis of public school science standards by the National Center for Science Education gave just 27 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia a “B+” or better rating for how they address climate change. Texas was one of six states that received an “F.”

The lack of climate science in classrooms is not a uniquely American problem. Arecent UNESCO study of 46 nations found that more than half failed to mention climate change in educational policies and curricula.

Texas’ state education board votedNov. 19 on proposed revisions to science standards for kindergarten through eighth grade, after changing its curriculum last year to address climate change in some high-school courses.

Curriculum up for consideration last week included teaching eighth graders how "natural events and human activity can impact global climate” -- language that prompted backlash from critics who say the added “can” qualifier doesn’t adequately represent the reality of how human activity influences the climate.

Climate scientists from universities across the state pennedan open letter to the board expressing concern about “the quality and integrity of Texas science education with regard to climate change” and advocating for updated standards that they argue are necessary to prepare students to meet “the challenges of the warming world that they will inherit.”

What is the state of climate education in U.S. schools and across the globe? What are students being taught now about the causes and effects of the warming world? What could these current trends mean for future efforts to combat climate change?

How much of a threat is the spread of climate misinformation in K-12 classrooms? What are the most common myths and misconceptions?

Do Texas’ standards align with established climate science? If not, what is the justification? What changes do experts suggest?

How big is the a red-blue divide in climate education? Who influences what kids learn about the climate?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Monday,  November 22.

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