Oregon Mandates Climate Change Lessons in Schools

Nuha Alayleh

Hoping to become the second in the nation to mandate climate change lessons for K-12 public school students, dozens of Oregon high schools supported the bill, saying they care about climate change.

Many parents and teachers say that teaching climate change could help the next generation better take care of our environment and take an interest in it. Others believe schools should focus more on reading, writing, and math after seeing scores from post-pandemic testing.

Many schools across the U.S. have found themselves at a crossroads regarding the curriculum about how topics like gender, sex education, and race should be taught, or whether they should even be picked up at all.

Barry Walsh, a physics teacher at ERHS shares his opinion.

“Where we get our energy from is probably one of the most important things to know in your life, because all day we are looking for energy and consuming energy,” Walsh says. “Eventually, fossil fuels are going to run out, but at the point right now, they are polluting the environment. So students need to understand the effects of burning fossil fuels and what are the pros and cons of alternative energy production.”

Different effects of climate change. (Nuha Alayleh)

Connecticut is the only other U.S. state that requires climate change instruction. Lawmakers in California and New York are considering similar bills.

Junior Regan MacIntyre says, “I would say climate change is definitely something that should be mandated, especially because we live in California where we see such drastic effects of it. We can see it with our air pollution, with our smog over LA, which is why there is always a brown haze, and even in the summer where we get really bad fires, and how it is effecting our ecosystem.”

Democratic Sen. James Manning, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, requires every Oregon school district to develop a climate change curriculum that includes, addressing ecological, societal, cultural, political, and mental health aspects of climate change.

As of now, the bill doesn’t say how long instruction time needs to be in order for the state to approve each district’s curriculum.