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NSTA Position Statement Confronts Challenges of Teaching Climate Change in Nation's Science Classrooms

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New Statement Calls for Greater Support for Science Educators to
Teach Evidence-based Science

In the midst of increasing efforts to undermine science education and
misinform the public about climate change, the National Science Teachers
Association has issued a position
statement
calling for greater support for science educators in
teaching evidence-based science, including climate science and climate
change. The statement promotes the teaching of climate change as any
other established field of science and calls on teachers to reject
pressures to eliminate or de-emphasize climate-based science concepts in
science instruction.

"Now more than ever, we need to give educators the support they need to
stand up against pressures from special interests, parents, or their
state leaders to teach ideas not based on scientific evidence," said
David Evans, NSTA Executive Director. "Teachers need ongoing
professional learning opportunities to strengthen their content
knowledge, enhance their teaching practices, and help build their
confidence to address socially controversial topics in the classroom."

The statement acknowledges the decades of research and overwhelming
scientific consensus indicating with increasing certainty that Earth's
climate is changing, largely due to human impacts. It also establishes
that any controversies regarding climate change and its causes that are
based on social, economic, or political arguments—and not scientific
evidence—should not be part of a science curriculum.

The statement provides specific recommendations for the various
stakeholders—school and district administrators, policy makers, parents,
and others—to help educators succeed in teaching quality science in the
classroom. A few of the recommendations include providing full support
to teachers in the event of community-based conflict, ensuring that
instructional materials considered for adoption are based on both
recognized practices and contemporary, scientifically accurate data;
ensuring the use of evidence-based scientific information when
addressing climate science and climate change in all parts of the school
curriculum, such as social studies, mathematics, and reading; and
supporting student learning of science at home.

"Across the political spectrum we are seeing a significant anti science
atmosphere and we need to change it," said Evans. "It's imperative that
we equip the next generation of citizens to demand and use evidence and
scientific reasoning about the physical world to enable them to make
important social and political decisions about how they live in the
world."

The imperative for teaching climate change science can be seen in state
science education standards based on the Framework for K–12 Science
Education
(NRC 2011), which recommends foundational climate change
science concepts be included as part of a high-quality K–12 science
education. Many states have adopted the standards based on the Framework
and are implementing them in classrooms around the country.

The statement was developed by a team of science educators, scientists,
and other education experts, and adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors.
According to Eric Pyle, a professor in the Department of Geology &
Environmental Science at James Madison University and chair of the NSTA
position statement panel, "teaching the science of climate and climate
change in school lays a foundation for future citizens who will need to
become resilient in the face of challenges posed by human impacts on
environment in general and the climate in particular. It is our
professional and moral obligation as educators to prepare them for these
challenges."

The position statement and other climate science resources can be found
at http://www.nsta.org/climate/.

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA–based National
Science Teachers Association
is the largest professional
organization in the world promoting excellence in science teaching and
learning, preschool through college. NSTA's membership includes
approximately 50,000 science teachers, science supervisors,
administrators, scientists, business representatives, and others
involved in science education.

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