Rawpixel/Getty Images

Idaho Just Changed Its Mind About Teaching Kids Climate Science… Again

Thank goodness.

CARLY CASSELLA
26 FEB 2018
 

After years of debate, Idaho lawmakers have finally decided that human-caused climate change is a topic science teachers should actually, you know, teach.

For three years now, the political debate over the reality of climate change has raged in Idaho. Last year, the controversy peaked when Idaho became the only state in the US to successfully remove any and every reference to climate change in its K through 12 science standards.

 

In 2018, the standards went up for review again, and things were looking pretty grim. Not only did the House education committee vote to again scrub key references to climate change, they also voted to gut 75-pages worth of supporting material. Because why not?

Thankfully, Idaho's Senate has now come to the rescue.

Last week, the Senate education committee voted to restore climate change to its rightful place in the state's science classrooms, along with all the supporting material.

"When a new teacher comes in, they need to see all the concepts that they're responsible to teach," Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, a Democrat on the committee, told The New York Times.

"To be honest, it's kind of embarrassing that it's been so controversial."

Republican Senator Bob Nonini also voted in favor of the new standards, proving that while science may be political, it doesn't have to be partisan.

"Some people have jokingly said to me, 'If we don't adopt the standards, it would be called the TEM Action Center,'" he said.

It's a funny joke, but it's also a little too real. In Idaho, denial of basic science, and climate science in particular, is unnervingly common, super political and also extremely embarrassing.

 

Despite the fact that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate change is real and is primarily caused by humans, only 24 percent of Republicans in Idaho agree, which is the lowest percentage of any US state.

Science supervisor of the Boise School District Christopher Taylor says Idaho teachers need climate change included in the science curriculum so they can resist community pressure against its teaching. Because while it's true the old standards didn't prevent educators from teaching climate science, there was also zero obligation.

"It's these small rural districts," he told the The New York Times

"They will do what the state says."

It's not just rural communities who deny the reality of climate change. During the House education committee hearings for the standards, several lawmakers stood opposed to the revisions, including the chairwoman herself.

One lawmaker even went so far as to claim he didn't care if students decided the earth is flat, "as long as it's their conclusion, not something that's told to them."

Still, every single member of the public that testified in front of the House committee voiced their support for the inclusion of climate change. Ilah Hickman, a high school junior from Boise, was one of several students who testified.

 

"Years later, me and my generation will be the ones that will have to deal with the … effects on the earth due to climate change or anything else that might be going on, whether or not we are to blame," Hickman said.

"Being put in such a role, I believe that we should be as prepared as ever to combat these changes."

Now, Idaho is giving students like Hickman the preparation they need and deserve.