The fossil fuel industry no longer has a grip on at least one school board now.
The Portland Public School Board voted earlier this year to ban any classroom materials, including textbooks and other material purchased by the district, that cast doubt on the existence of climate change.
This new rule was passed unanimously by the board’s members, who agreed with testimony from Bill Bigelow, a former Portland teacher, when he said,
“We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”
Materials that present climate change as a theory rather than as a fact will no longer be used and, going forward, they will not be purchased by the district for students. Additionally, materials must make it clear that human activity is responsible for the rapid climate change occurring on our planet. The resolution also calls for the superintendent and staff to develop an education plan for teaching students about climate justice.
A student of Lincoln High School, Gaby Lemieux, said in testimony at the hearing,
“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis. Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”
Bigelow clarified that when texts use the words “might,” “may,” or “could,” they are suggesting that climate change is a concept rather than a fact or that humans are not responsible for it, meaning we can’t do anything to change it and should continue living the way we currently are.
This is destructive because fossil fuel companies are largely to blame for climate change due to their terrible environmental practices and would prefer that consumers remain in the dark about this so that they don’t call for reform. The textbooks include the aforementioned keywords in an effort to keep fossil fuel companies happy, that are likely paying them to change the language in their favor.
The resolution has sparked some controversy, as some point out that this new rule may be akin to banning books because the content doesn’t fit a certain political agenda. However, banning books that are working with dangerous companies is actually working against America’s current conservative political agenda, as these same companies have their hands in many political figures’ pockets.
Conservative American politicians continue to deny that climate change is real, or that it is an imminent threat that needs to be reckoned with, but they are essentially the only right-leaning figures in the world still standing by this claim. Many conservative world leaders have urged other leaders to join them in making changes to save the planet from climate change, or to at least salvage what’s left of it.
Hopefully this resolution will encourage other school boards to make similar changes in their public schools so that climate change can be an issue at the forefront of the minds of future generations.
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