California State Senate Approves New Global Warming Curriculum

Published May 1, 2008

Climate change issues would become a required part of the public school curriculum and textbooks in California under legislation recently approved by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 908 would require the State Board of Education to adopt curriculum frameworks for climate change. In addition to serving as curriculum recommendations for local school districts, the frameworks would dictate for educational publishers the content of textbooks.

The bill was adopted by a vote of 26 to 13 in the Senate on January 30, 2008. It now moves to the State Assembly.

No Balance Required

The bill was controversial in the Senate because it simply requires “climate change” to be taught, without requiring balance between the positions of alarmists and skeptics.

“I find it disturbing that this mandate to teach this theory is not accompanied by a requirement that the discussion be science-based and include a critical analysis of all sides of the subject,” state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), said during the Senate debate, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The framework adopted by the board will be particularly important if the bill passes the Assembly and is signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In California, frameworks dictate the content of textbooks purchased by the state for local schools.

National Impact

The California proposal has national importance because the state purchases 11 percent of all textbooks sold in the United States. Publishers generally write textbooks for a national audience, so California-mandated content, along with what is mandated in Texas, constitutes a market “large enough to influence the entire textbook industry,” wrote Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Thomas B. Fordham Institute, in The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption.

Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis views the California legislation as more than simply manifesting a desire to educate school children about a current scientific debate.

“Global warming activists understand that children’s opinions are easily swayed, and that the most effective way to proselytize adults is to indoctrinate their kids,” Lewis said.

“Activists know that when a child comes home and says, ‘Daddy, why are you destroying the planet?’ this is the kind of dinner table conversation that will lead parents to change their behavior, if for no other reason than to placate their children,” Lewis added. “Scientific debate is discarded, and propaganda is being sold at the least common denominator.”

Maureen Martin ([email protected]) is senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute.