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Portland Schol Board - Climate Curriculum: Myth v. Fact + Next Steps

On May 17, 2016, the Portland Oregon school board unanimously passed a climate justice curriculum resolution--hurray! So, now what? Educating for Climate Justice, the group of teachers, students and community members who have carried out the resolution through to its passage, are currently meeting with district staff on implementation plans.

Interested in providing your input? Please come to our next meeting on Monday, July 18 at 7 PM, 5431 NE 20th Ave. We will be located in the board room know as "Seashell", please enter on 20th Ave near the parking lot.
On May 17, 2016, the Portland Oregon school board unanimously passed a climate justice curriculum resolution--hurray! So, now what? Educating for Climate Justice, the group of teachers, students and community members who have carried out the resolution through to its passage, are currently meeting with district staff on implementation plans.

Interested in providing your input? Please come to our next meeting on Monday, July 18 at 7 PM, 5431 NE 20th Ave. We will be located in the board room know as "Seashell", please enter on 20th Ave near the parking lot.

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MYTH V. FACT

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The resolution triggered an attack by right wing media outlets. In case there is any doubt, here are answers to some common misconceptions about the resolution.

Myth: The resolution is censorship because it suppresses free speech and critical thinking.

Fact: Abandonment of adopted text material is not censorship. Over time, textbooks (and specific text) are routinely replaced for a host of reasons, including the discovery of outdated information, inaccuracies and biases. Furthermore, the resolution does not prevent teachers from using any text, including formerly adopted texts, in a way that would help students better understand climate change and contemporary debates about climate change.

Myth: Books will be banned.

Fact: The word "ban" is not in the resolution. No books have been banned in Portland. In fact, the school district has not yet decided on an implementation plan for the school board's climate justice resolution. As stated above, the resolution does not prevent teachers from using any text, including formerly adopted texts, in a way that would help students better understand climate change and contemporary debates about climate change.

Myth: The resolution is a sign of a totalitarian police state that criminalizes climate dissent.

Fact: The resolution broadens the discussion of climate change. The resolution calls for an exploration of "the breadth of causes and consequences of the climate crisis as well as potential solutions that address the root causes of the crisis; and do so in ways that are participatory, imaginative, and respectful of students' and teachers' creativity and eagerness to be part of addressing global problems, and that build a sense of personal efficacy and empowerment."

Myth: Some of the people involved have a conflict of interest and lack integrity. Tim Swinehart and Bill Bigelow want to replace the adopted textbook with their book so that they can profit financially.

Fact: Tim Swinehart and Bill Bigelow, co-editors of People's Curriculum for the Earth, receive no royalties from sale of the book. In fact, the book is not a textbook, it is a resource guide for teachers.

Myth: The resolution is fundamentally flawed because the human cause of climate change is still being debated.

Fact: 97% of scientists agree that anthropogenic climate change is a fact. Many scientists who disagree have connections to the fossil fuel industry and are not in the climate science field. There is much debate about what should be done to respond to the climate crisis. There is no serious debate that human actions are not contributing to this crisis.

Myth: Portland's resolution is wrong because it assumes human-caused climate change is a fact, but it is "only" a theory.

Fact: It is true that anthropogenic climate change is a scientific theory. However, scientists use the word theory in a very specific way. According to the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific theory refers to "a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence." Anthropogenic climate change is one such theory. At this time, abnormal fluctuations in our climate patterns can best be explained by human induced increases in greenhouse gases.

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