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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau school officials are considering adopting national science education standards that include teaching middle and high school students about climate change.

The Juneau School District is borrowing some core ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards, which include providing students with an understanding of the relationship between human activity and climate change, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Thursday.

The district does not currently have a policy on climate change, and it’s largely left to teachers to decide how the subject is taught in classrooms, said Ted Wilson, the district director of teaching and learning.

“The aspect of how much of it is human caused — because there is still a lot of controversy about that — is to teach it as this is one stream of thought,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that stream of thought is that humans contributed to climate change. Should teachers present the topic this way, it allows students to later form their own opinions on the matter, he said.

Another approach is to teach climate change as a debate, which Wilson said he isn’t opposed to. He said topics in history and language classes are regularly debated in the classroom.

“I think in our political climate, we don’t want teachers to be seen as people that are trying to push an agenda,” Wilson said.

While climate change may be socially controversial, it’s not in the scientific community, said Glenn Branch, a deputy director at the National Center for Science Education. Leaving room for debate on topic in the classroom could do students a disservice.

“It’s inappropriate. Both because it reinforces a false conception that there’s a legitimate scientific debate about climate change, and also because it misrepresents the nature of science,” Branch said.

Climate change is included in the state’s science education standards. The Alaska Department of Education said the topic is largely left for the school districts to decide how it’s taught.


Information from: KTOO-FM,