Legislation to support climate change education passes in California

California state flag.

California's Assembly Bill 285, a measure to support climate change education in the Golden State's public schools, is on its way to the governor's desk.

The bill will require the California course of study for grades 1-6 and grades 7-12 to emphasize the causes and effects of climate change and methods to mitigate and adapt to its effects. Additionally, appropriate coursework including such material will be required to be offered as soon as possible, no later than the 2024-2025 school year.

Originally introduced by Luz Rivas (D-District 39) along with four colleagues in the Assembly and two in the Senate, the bill passed the Assembly on a 59-2 vote on May 8, 2023, and then, in amended form, passed the Senate on a 33-0 vote on September 12, 2023. The Assembly then voted 67-4 to concur with the amended bill on September 13, 2023.

A catch is that as amended, AB 285 incorporates the provisions of two other bills addressing unrelated educational issues for grades 1-6. If those bills are not passed first, the provisions of AB 285 for grades 1-6 will not become operative. However, the provisions of AB 285 for grades 7-12 are not dependent on the fate of the other bills.

Versions of the bill in previous legislative sessions would have required at least one of the two science classes required for graduation from high school to include material on climate change.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.