Climate change education bills die in Rhode Island

When the Rhode Island legislature adjourned on June 24, 2022, a pair of identical climate change bills, House Bill 7275 (PDF) and Senate Bill 2039 (PDF), died, having previously been "held for further study" in their respective committees.

If enacted, the bills would have required the state department of education "to develop a set of key environmental, climate, and sustainability principles and concepts" and to take a variety of steps to ensure that they are reflected in Rhode Island's public schools.

The bills were substantially similar to Senate Bill 464 and House Bill 5625 from 2021, both of which died in committee. Non-binding resolutions expressing the legislature's support for increased climate education were introduced in 2019 and 2020 but died in committee.

Also dying was House Bill 7539 (PDF), which contained a provision requiring that "History, literature, social science, and natural science topics shall be subject to critical analysis that requires all sides of the topic to be presented and explored."

Introduced by Patricia Morgan (R-District 26), House Bill 7539 was aimed primarily at preventing the teaching of what its sponsor described as "critical race theory"; it is unclear what, if any, "natural science topics" were contemplated.

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

branch@ncse.ngo