Connecticut state Representative Christine Palm, a Democrat from the town of Chester, has proposed a bill in the state legislature that would mandate instruction on climate change in public schools across Connecticut. If Palm’s proposed bill became law, the study of climate change in Connecticut would begin in elementary school. It would also be the first bill in the U.S. to make climate change instruction mandatory via statute.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Some people don’t believe the legislation is necessary, because the state already adopted Next Generation Science Standards back in 2015. Those standards include teaching about climate change, reported. “A lot of schools make the study of climate change an elective, and I don’t believe it should be an elective,” Palm said. “I think it should be mandatory, and I think it should be early, so there’s no excuse for kids to grow up ignorant of what’s at stake.”

Related: Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

The Next Generation Science Standards already make climate change studies a core of science education, but it doesn’t start until middle school. Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said that because the curriculum is already addressing climate change and educators are already teaching the standards set forth by the 2015 legislation, this new proposal isn’t needed.

So far, 19 states and Washington D.C. have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. However, it does leave the specific curriculum up to individual school districts and only gives indications about what the state wants students to learn.

During the last legislative session, a similar bill to Palm’s was introduced, but it did not pass.

Some states have also proposed legislation to either allow or require teachers to present students with alternative viewpoints about climate change and other topics.

Palm believes that climate change is such an urgent and threatening matter that it should be a top priority in a child’s education. “I’d love to see poetry be mandated,” Palm said. “That’s never going to happen. That’s not life or death.”


Image via Wokandapix