Climate Education

After taking a climate change class at Boise State, my friends and I got to meet Jane Fonda to share our final projects | Source: East Idaho News

Writing postcards urging State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra to study stronger climate science standards.

Students across Treasure Valley testified against HCR 27 which politicized K-12 science standards.

Boise students demand a comprehensive K-12 climate education.

K-12 climate education is not a controversial issue. According to Yale Climate Opinion Maps, 77% of American adults believe that students should learn about the causes, consequences, and solutions to global warming. Though Idaho only added climate change to K-12 science standards in 2018, Boise Schools has long been a leader in ensuring students understand the basics of the crisis of our time.

I was first motivated to become a youth advocate for climate action when I took Earth Science at BSD's Treasure Valley Mathematics and Science Center in 7th grade. Mr. Yee encouraged us to do our own research about the greenhouse effect and why Earth's temperatures are warming and create a project to demonstrate that knowledge. I was mind-blown at how existential this crisis really is and how little our elected leaders were talking about it. Fast forward a few years and through my organizing I meet Dr. Jennifer Pierce, a Geomorphologist at Boise State. She teaches a University Foundations class called the Foundations of Climate Change. My friends and I signed up for that class because we wanted to know more about an issue that has really dominated our lives. Unfortunately, the class cost $1150 per student. We looked for scholarships, but we couldn't find any resources for high school students taking on-campus college classes. So we got creative. I sent a letter to actress and lifelong environmentalist, Jane Fonda asking her to consider sponsoring us in taking this class. To my surprise, she called me back and agreed to pay for the class. I was mind-blown by how much I hadn't learned about climate change and its effects on health, tourism, water resources, agriculture, and immigration. Why didn't we learn about this in high school?

Vertically- and horizontally- integrated climate education is a term a I throw around a lot, but what does it mean? Vertically-integrated means taught at all grade levels, Kindergarten through 12th grade and post-graduation community education. Students are never too young to learn about the challenges facing our world and how we can overcome them. Horizontally-integrated means taught in all subjects. Teaching climate change exclusively in the science classroom represents an archaic view of the issue of our type. While the greenhouse effect and global average temperature increase are essential in understanding climate change, its causes manifest in the humanities: government, social studies, economics. Curriculum such as the Climate Stories Project is created for implementing climate education in language arts. Researchers at Boise State are currently developing math problems related to climate change.

Jane Fonda should not have to subsidize BSD students' education. Beyond the Boise State class, I've been a long-time advocate for climate education. In my AP Capstone class, I researched employing climate stories for policy advocacy. Through my work with the Idaho Conservation League, I've campaigned for the State Board of Education to study stronger climate science standards. In December, I organized a school strike for climate education with hundreds of my peers. When education standards were under attack this legislative session, I organized 13 of my peers to testify against bills that would politicize science standards. Though fully implementing this view of comprehensive climate education will take longer than any one board member's tenure, Boise Schools can better provide resources for teacher training to implement climate education in their lesson plans. As a trustee, I'll fight to make sure that all students are adequately prepared to face the climate crisis.