by Layla Abdi
Much like evolution a century ago, another science topic is creating a heated debate in the classroom these days. Recently, climate change’s place in school curriculums has garnered national attention, with 12 states and D.C. making it a larger focal point in science education, according to nationaljournal.com.
Statistically, many of the hottest years on record have been since 1998, with 2014 taking top place as the hottest in recorded history, according to washingtonpost.com. As biology teacher Debbie Menard pointed out, “Global warming is real and it’s happening.” She added that, “Some places with temperate climates like Nebraska and Indiana are now growing tropical fruit like pineapples due to global warming.” According to nationaljournal.com, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is underway and human activity is the primary cause.”
While this information may not be surprising to some, 1 in 4 Americans are still skeptical of climate change, according to a poll by Gallup. When it comes to teaching climate change in detail, this skepticism brings an interesting conversation to the classroom.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is a new set of standards passed by 12 states that was developed by “a group of national science and education organizations, including Achieve – one of the groups involved with the development of the Common Core State Standards,” according to washingtonpost.com. On its website nextgenscience.org, the group emphasizes that “The Next Generation Science Standards are student performance expectations – NOT curriculum.”
Specifically, the Framework points out that science and engineering are “needed to address major world challenges such as generating sufficient clean energy, preventing and treating diseases, maintaining supplies of food and clean water, and solving the problems of global environmental change that confront society today.”
Despite their credentials and support, the new science standards aren’t without critics and opponents. Initially, Wyoming was the first state to reject NGSS education from schools last year. However, the decision is now being voted on again, potentially giving a chance for it to land back in Wyoming schools. Critics of NGSS are against the focus on climate change and evolution.
“I do think global warming is a real issue,” said junior Heena Abbas. “Everyone should know about it to help prevent it from getting worse.”
Others are critical of the emphasis put on negative environmental changes resulting from human activity.
“They should definitely not ban teaching controversial topics. [Students] should be educated and know about other points of view about the issue,” said Abbas.
While the debate on global warming rages on for legislators, the topic will remain variable between different school systems.