Concern about climate change in Pennsylvania's proposed science standards

Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer (June 28, 2021), Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University and a member of NCSE's board of directors, voiced his concern with a new set of proposed science standards for Pennsylvania.

In his column, Mann repeatedly cited "Making the Grade?" — the recent NCSE/TFNEF report assessing the treatment of climate change in state science standards nationally. Pennsylvania's 2002 standards received the grade of F in that report.

Mann acknowledged that the proposed standards included climate change, unlike the 2002 standards they would replace, but objected that they did not make it explicit that recent climate change is anthropogenic.

The Next Generation Science Standards, on which the proposed standards are substantially modeled, contain the same language, but clarify that human activities play "a major role in causing the rise in global temperatures."

Rather than blaming climate-change-denying policymakers, Mann attributed the problem to the fact that the proposed standards include only performance expectations, to the exclusion of additional key features of the NGSS.

"Adding these features to the proposed state guidelines would improve our standards across the board, not only for climate change but for other areas of science education," Mann observed, noting that the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association endorsed (PDF) the NGSS.

Concerned Pennsylvanians have until July 4, 2021, to review the proposed science standards (scroll down to Appendix B-1) and offer feedback by e-mail to Further information about the review process can be found here.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.