Climate change education bill passes in Illinois

Chicago, Illinois.

House Bill 4895, one of three climate change education bills active in the Illinois legislature, was passed by the Senate on a 36-16 vote on May 23, 2024, having already passed the House of Representatives. It now goes to Governor J. B. Pritzer.

As passed, the bill provides that, "Beginning with the 2026-2027 school year, every public school shall provide instruction on climate change, which shall include, but not be limited to, identifying the environmental and ecological impacts of climate change on individuals and communities and evaluating solutions for addressing and mitigating the impact of climate change and shall be in alignment with State learning standards, as appropriate. The State Board of Education shall, subject to appropriation, prepare and make available multi-disciplinary instructional resources and professional learning opportunities for educators that may be used to meet the requirements of this subsection."

The provisions of the bill as passed are substantially less ambitious than the bill as introduced. As introduced, the bill would have required every public high school in Illinois to "include in its curriculum a unit of instruction addressing climate change in either a required science class or a required social studies class." It would also have required instruction on climate change to be included in all high school courses in science, agriculture, social science, and relevant career and technical education courses. The state superintendent of education would have been charged with preparing appropriate instructional materials and professional development training for educators.

The other two climate change education bills active in the Illinois legislature — Senate Bill 3644, which was similar but not identical to House Bill 4895 as introduced, and House Bill 4319 — are still in committee.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.