Gounardes proposes bill requiring climate change education for kids

Andrew Gounardes.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes introduced legislation mandating climate change education for all New York State public school students.

“The fact that the biggest existential threat of our time is not a standardized part of our public school curriculum is a glaring hole in our education system,” Gounardes said. “If we are to understand the nature of this complex threat and address it at every level, today’s students must understand the problem.”

The first-term senator represents a large portion of southern Brooklyn — where many neighborhoods had mandatory evacuations and over 1,000 homes lost electricity.   

If passed, the state Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia will be required to develop a climate change curriculum to be integrated into science, social studies, history and health classes at elementary schools and high schools throughout the state.

A national poll conducted by National Public Radio found that 66 percent of the population supports teaching students about climate change and its impact in school and an even greater percentage of teachers — 77 percent — support the measure. 

“For too long, the public conversation about climate change has been distorted by fossil fuel companies and politicians with an interest in maintaining the status quo,” Gounardes said. “It is now imperative for students to understand the science, the history, the politics and health implications of this global emergency.”

The bill is sponsored in the state legislature’s lower chamber by Assemblywoman Joanne Simon, who represents neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn.