The Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution this week that bans textbooks and other teaching materials that deny climate change exists or cast doubt on whether humans are to blame.
The resolution, introduced by school board member Mike Rosen, also directs the superintendent and staff to develop a plan for offering “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice” in all Portland public schools, the Portland Tribune reported.
“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux said during board testimony Tuesday. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”
Bill Bigelow, editor of the ReThinking Schools online magazine and co-author of a textbook on environmental education, worked with several environmental groups to present the resolution, the Tribune reported.
“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise,” Mr. Bigelow said. “We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”
He took particular issue with teaching materials that used iffy language when discussing climate change, like “might,” “may” and “could.”
Asked if the resolution will force the district to buy new textbooks, such as his book, “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth,” Mr. Bigelow said ReThinking Schools is a nonprofit, not a money-maker, the Tribune reported.
“What we’re asking for is not: Buy new stuff,” he said. “What we’re looking for is a whole different model of curriculum development and distribution.”