JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION IN CONNECTICUT SCHOOLS.
Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Sen. Ted Kennedy, 12th Dist.
Rep. James M. Albis, 99th Dist.
Rep. Dorinda Borer, 115th Dist.
Rep. Patricia A. Dillon, 92nd Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
Many argue that climate change on the planet is a proven scientifically. Proponents point out that Connecticut has already joined much state, such as Massachusetts, Maryland, and Montana, in adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. The bill seeks to promote climate change education by requiring public schools to offer climate change education.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Robert J. Klee, Comissioner Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Climate education is also a subject area that enriches scientific understanding and curiosity. SB 345 calls for such instruction to be consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards. SB 345 would require DEEP be available to boards of education to assist in the integration of climate education in the curriculum. DEEP is already engaged in this work via its CT Climate Change website and various science and environmental education initiatives.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Louis Burch, Connecticut Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE)
Citizens Campaign for the Environment strongly supports making climate change education a basic requirement for all Connecticut students, and respectfully urges this committee to pass this legislation.
Claire Coleman, Climate & Energy Attorney, Connecticut Fund for the Environment / Save the Sound
Connecticut Fund for the Environment support's SB 345 proposal to include climate change education consistent with these Next Generation Science Standards as a subject matter included in public school instruction, and to require DEEP to help local and regional school boards develop curriculum consistent with the Next Generation Science Standards.
David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut
Climate has a huge influence on our food, water, homes, and daily activities. It is important that we educate the next generations about climate change.
Climate change is based in science and affects every aspect of our lives. Teach Connecticut's children to show them the links between human activities and climate change.
The Environment Committee received over 100 additional similar letters supporting the bill and urging us to require the teaching climate change as part of the Next Generation Science Standards.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
KARISSA L. NIEHOFF, ED.D, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE CONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS
Efforts to increase science education in schools are already in process, especially at the elementary level. The Next Generation Science Standards are focused on inquiry-based learning which is a strategy good for all content areas, with experts from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The Connecticut Association of Schools supports the intent of SB 345; however, the goal of SB 345 can be accomplished without a statutory mandate.
Donna Hamzy, Advocacy Manager, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM)
CCM has concerns with SB 345 as it is an unfunded mandate. Every year, there are multiple pieces of proposed legislation to add new requirements to public school curriculums. Each new mandated curriculum passed down from the state to local school districts only decreases the already minimal amount of time educators have to work with their students on the core curriculum – math, science, English, and social studies.
Eric Brown, Senior Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA)
SB-345 would require public schools to offer instruction in “climate change consistent with the Next Generation Science [NGS] Standards.” However, there are no such standards specified for “Climate change”. Rather, climate science is incorporated into NGS standards on “Ecosystems”, “Earth Systems”, and “Earth and Human Activity”. With DEEP's limited and increasingly challenging resource limitations, we do not believe those precious resources should be allocated to designing school curriculums – even if the appropriate expertise exists on its staff – which we do not believe it does. Accordingly, CBIA urges the committee to strike the proposed language on lines 30 to 33 of the bill.
Reported by: Steve Smith, Asst. Clerk