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Making an Impact in the Classroom and the Statehouse

Faced with a legislative effort to remove references of human-caused climate change from the state’s education standards, NCSE Teacher Ambassador Erin Stutzman in 2018 worked with several of her students to testify in opposition.

Erin Stutzman

Faced with a legislative effort to remove references of human-caused climate change from the state’s education standards, NCSE Teacher Ambassador Erin Stutzman in 2018 worked with several of her students to testify in opposition.

One of those students, Emily Her, who at the time was a senior at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, told the Idaho House Education Committee, according to an article in the New York Times following her testimony, that she was leading a petition in support of climate education. Her also said she feared for the education of students in parts of the state where teachers have decided not to risk taking on a socially controversial - but scientifically accepted - topic like human-caused climate change.

Teacher Talk: Erin, Idaho (Climate in the Classroom)

Taking Action

One teacher is telling them ‘white is white’ and the other saying ‘white is black,’ and they struggle to know who to believe. It was a really sad moment for me, because you’ve got these kids and they want to trust their teachers, and when they lose that trust they lose a bit of their innocence.

Ultimately, the Idaho House efforts to remove climate change from the standards were defeated–a victory not just for Stutzman and her students, but also for students throughout the state. “It’s about our children’s future and leaving our planet a better place,” Stutzman is quoted as saying in another Times article about the legislative fight.

Closer to home, Stutzman - an Advanced Placement Environmental Science teacher - talks openly about challenges she faces from colleagues. In this Undark piece, Stutzman describes an incident where a social studies teacher in her school challenged the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.

Stutzman turned what could have been a difficult confrontation into a teachable moment. She helped her students examine the “evidence” put forward by her colleague to better understand the kinds of misconceptions and misinformation that is affecting public discourse.

“The students started to reflect on what was taking place in front of them,” Stutzman says in the Undark interview. “One teacher is telling them ‘white is white’ and the other saying ‘white is black,’ and they struggle to know who to believe. It was a really sad moment for me, because you’ve got these kids and they want to trust their teachers, and when they lose that trust they lose a bit of their innocence.”

Stutzman was highly motivated to become an NCSE Teacher Ambassador and use her knowledge and expertise to help develop, field-test, and share the initial set of climate change lessons. In fact, you can see her discuss implementation of the first of those lessons during a recent webinar

Find out more about Erin Stutzman

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