No fewer than three bills aimed at supporting climate change education in the Bay State in various ways were introduced in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on February 16, 2023.
House Bill 470 would establish a Climate Science Education Trust Fund, which would "be used to support the development, purchase and implementation of curriculum and educational resources related to professional development for educators and costs associated with curriculum implementation." The trust fund would be administered by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, who would expend it on "development, purchase, distribution and implementation of curricular materials" and "professional development ... for educators to use in the teaching of climate science in K-12 grades." The commissioner would also administer a competitive grants program, supported by the trust fund, to promote climate science instruction in the schools. Introduced by Mindy Domb (D-District 3), the bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Education.
House Bill 496 would require the state standards for science, technology, and engineering to be revised "to include relevant and interdisciplinary climate change standards that will provide students with a deeper understanding of anthropogenic climate change." The state standards for history, social sciences, and civics would be revised "to include relevant and interdisciplinary climate change standards that will provide students with a deeper understanding of climate policy, climate justice, and climate action." And the state standards for all other subjects would be revised "to integrate climate policy, climate justice, and climate action." The state department of elementary and secondary education would be required to provide and sponsor professional development opportunities for educators. Introduced by James K. Hawkins (D-District 2) and three colleagues, the bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Education.
House Bill 576 would require state environmental science and environmental protection standards to be revised to "promote an understanding of climate change including, but not limited to: (i) the human impact on the carbon cycle; (ii) the effect of climate change on life that exists on Earth; (iii) the effects of the environment on health, economics, and agricultural systems; (iv) the impact of climate change on the water cycle; and (v) the impact of the environment on natural disasters and weather." School districts would be permitted but not required to incorporate these standards; the state department of elementary and secondary education would be permitted to help school districts select material and curriculum on climate change and to apply for funding to. Introduced by Danillo A. Sena (D-District 37) and two colleagues, the bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Education.
While House Bill 470 is unprecedented, House Bill 496 is similar to House Bill 614 and Senate Bill 311 from 2021, and House Bill 576 is similar to House Bill 4643 and Senate Bill 2785 from 2022, which were diluted versions of the 2021 bills. All four bills ultimately died.