In May 2016, the Portland, Oregon school board unanimously passed the most comprehensive climate literacy policy of any school district in the country, pledging to abandon the use of text materials that deny the human roots of the climate crisis or that minimize its consequences. The resolution also called for robust professional development opportunities and for every school to implement a climate justice curriculum. It grew out of a collaborative effort of teachers, students, parents, and community activists.
Predictably, the resolution was attacked by right-wing media and the climate denial industry. The director of communications at the Heartland Institute wrote that the “logical next step” would be for the resolution’s proponents to “host a book burning ceremony at the football stadium.”
Support for the school board’s resolution poured in from parents, community members, and educators, who applauded Portland’s commitment to offer a climate curriculum that is “participatory, imaginative, and respectful of students’ and teachers’ creativity and eagerness to be part of addressing global problems…” One group, Climate Parents, collected more than 1,000 signatures thanking the Portland school board for passing its resolution.
This organizing packet is one result of our collaboration with the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, a foundation interested in addressing climate change through education and policy. The Kaplan Foundation hopes to seed resolutions like the one in Portland around the country and is supporting Rethinking Schools’ efforts, given our previous work.
Included here are materials that we hope might be useful to others wanting to introduce more honest and critical climate change education in schools, including a preview PDF of our book A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.
This “climate justice seed packet” features:
- A preview of A People’s Curriculum for the Earth
- Portland’s “Climate Literacy” resolution
- Milwaukee’s “Our House is on Fire,” Climate Justice resolution
- Common Dreams article summarizing the content and significance of the Portland resolution
- TakePart.com article by journalist Liz Dwyer on the Portland resolution
- “Portland climate education is not indoctrination,” by Tim Swinehart
- Climate Parents’ “thank you” letter to the Portland school board
- “Organizing Lessons from the Portland Climate Justice Resolution,” by Educating for Climate Justice
If you would like to download a printable version of these materials, please click here (does not include book preview).
Please let us know if we can help in any way as you work toward a school curriculum that addresses issues that matter.
Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor