Texas again misses a chance to improve climate change education

At its September 26, 2022, meeting, the Texas state board of education declined to improve the state standards for high school geography by adding material about climate change. "The refusal to update 12-year-old standards by teaching students about topics like climate change and heroes like Dolores Huerta is a new low for this board," Carisa Lopez of the Texas Freedom Network commented in a September 27, 2022, press release.

Earlier, in late August and early September 2022, the board voted to delay the revision of the social science standards until 2025. According to Education Week (September 9, 2022), the vote bowed "to conservative pressure against drafts intended to make history instruction more inclusive," despite the work of educators, subject matter experts, and community leaders who prepared revisions to the standards, which are more than a decade old.

In the recent meeting, the board was considering a different set of revisions to the old social studies standards, prepared by the Texas Education Agency to comply with recent legislation (Senate Bill 3 [PDF] from 2021). A proposal to amend the revisions to add two additional references to climate change in the standards for high school world geography studies (to standards 8A and 8B) was defeated shortly before the board voted to end debate.

The board is expected to take a final vote on the TEA revisions to the state social studies standards in November 2022. Over the last three years, Texas's state science standards have improved their treatment of climate change slightly, at the elementary and the high school level for both required and elective courses, as NCSE previously reported, but not as accurately and thoroughly as was hoped.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.