In a move spearheaded by environmentalists, the Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools.
“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”
The resolution passed Tuesday evening calls for the school district to get rid of textbooks or other materials that cast doubt on whether climate change is occurring and that the activity of human beings is responsible. The resolution also directs the superintendent and staff to develop an implementation plan for “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”
Bill Bigelow, a former PPS teacher and current editor of ReThinking Schools, an online magazine devoted to education issues, worked with 350PDX and other environmental groups to present the resolution.
“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise,” Bigelow says, accusing the publishing industry to bowing to pressure from fossil fuels companies. “We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”
In board testimony, Bigelow said PPS’ science textbooks are littered with words like might, may and could when talking about climate change.