Working with Climate Parents on projects like these is always a fluid experience, typically involving a series of conference calls with Hoyos and her colleagues, interspersed with e-mails clearly laying out the current situation and plan of action. Hoyos is especially good at ascertaining where the levers of power are, and how best to exert influence over them. A long-time Climate Parents staffer, John Friedrich, also played a central role in working with NCSE.
When Climate Parents joined forces with the national Sierra Club in 2016, its grassroots reach became more expansive. After a bill similar to Tennessee’s monkey bill passed the South Dakota Senate in 2017, NCSE asked Climate Parents to rally its local troops to ensure that the bill proceeded no further. They included Mark Winegar, a longtime activist with the state’s chapter of the Sierra Club. Thanks to Winegar’s indefatigable advocacy as well as a Climate Parents petition signed by over 1400 South Dakotans, the bill was defeated in the House Education Committee.
Climate Parents also thinks big. In 2014, it drafted a Climate Science Students Bill of Rights, which declared that all students, in every state, have the right to learn about climate change properly. (Mark McCaffrey, NCSE’s first staffer working primarily on climate change education, wrote about it in 2014.) The declaration was endorsed by NCSE as well as the Alliance for Climate Education, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In a paradoxical way, it would be nice not to have any occasion to work with Climate Parents. If, in 2020, there are no attempts to compromise the integrity of science education through misguided legislation, standards, or policy, you won’t find NCSE complaining! But there is, alas, little chance of that happening. And it is good to know that in NCSE’s efforts to combat such attempts as they inevitably occur, Climate Parents will be ready, willing, and able to continue as a valued collaborator.
Of course, helping to catalyze action in support of the integrity of science education isn’t the only item on the agenda at Climate Parents. A current important campaign of the organization is urging school districts across the country to move toward 100% clean energy—with the Los Angeles Unified School District recently coming on board, a real coup! But it is for its fierce and effective advocacy on behalf of science education that NCSE is pleased to honor Climate Parents with the Friend of the Planet award.