A call to improve climate change education in Texas

Fayette Power Project, a coal power plant near La Grange, Texas. Photo by Sam LaRussa on Unsplash.

"Dozens of Texas scientists who study and teach about climate change have signed on to an open letter calling on the State Board of Education to improve on the abysmal coverage of climate change in science standards that guide what 5.5 million public school students learn in the state's classrooms yearly," according to a November 4, 2021, press release issued by the Texas Freedom Network and NCSE.

"The scientific evidence is overwhelming that, thanks to human activity, our world is experiencing rapid and severe climate change, with increasingly volatile and destructive weather events all over the globe," observed Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University, who endorsed the letter (PDF). "Teaching about climate change doesn't just prepare students to succeed in college-level work if they choose to further their education after high school. It also helps students become informed voters who understand the stakes and can make responsible decisions as we work together to find real solutions to the problem."

The state board of education is in the process of considering revisions to the state science standards for kindergarten to grade 8. In late 2020 and early 2021, the board adopted revisions to the state science standards for high school science classes that included modest improvements in their treatment of climate change, as NCSE previously reported.

Val Benavidez, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, commented, "The call from climate scientists is as clear as our public school science standards should be," adding, "It's past time to put politics aside and make sure science classes in Texas schools teach students the truth about this global emergency." There is clearly room for improvement, NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch observed: Texas's present state science standards "received a failing grade for their treatment of climate change" in the "Making the Grade?" report issued by NCSE and the TFN Education Fund.

"The board is set to debate changes to the K-8 draft and take a final vote on its adoption November 16-19 in Austin," the press release concluded. "Because the Texas market is so large, publishers often write new textbooks to meet the Texas standards and then sell those textbooks in other states as well. Because of this, the board's actions have national importance."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.