Kids at climate strike
Children taking part in the climate strike at the Capitol. Kathleen Megan / CT Mirror

In schools across Connecticut students are not being taught about the climate crisis. Even in high school climate change is often not woven into the curriculum, leaving students with little-to-no knowledge.

Maebel Haynes

As the climate crisis continues to worsen, as demonstrated in the latest UN report, Connecticut is not preparing youth to handle this issue, an issue that youth will bear the brunt of, particularly in communities that are a majority BIPOC —Black, Indigenous, and People of Color —or low income.

I am currently a sophomore in high school. I have never been taught about climate change to the extent that many people—including our state legislators —believe it is being taught. I have been to Windham Public schools, Hartford Public schools, and now am a student at E.O. Smith High School. Throughout my time at all these schools the extent of my climate education has been the definition of climate change and the greenhouse effect. This is not nearly enough to allow students to understand climate change or possible solutions. 

On March 4 I delivered testimony to the CT General Assembly Education Committee in support of HB 5285, which would require that all school districts provide climate change instruction as part of the science curriculum. When I informed the legislators how little climate education I have received throughout my 11 years in school, I could see the visible shock on their faces. 

It is time to dispel the myth that students are already receiving adequate climate change education. We are not. Instead, we must focus on ensuring that all current and future students receive adequate climate education. This is exactly what HB 5285 strives to accomplish.

This bill, titled An Act Concerning the Public School Curriculum, would require all public schools to teach about the climate crisis and hold them to Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) levels. Students would have the opportunity to understand the scientific basis of the issue, including human impact, as well as possible solutions, such as a transition to renewable energy.

At the end of the day, climate education is science education. By making it required we are preparing Connecticut’s youth for the future. We are ensuring that students are aware of global scientific issues and can act accordingly. 

We deserve an education that prepares us for the future and that is exactly what HB 5285 does. To any legislator that may read this, I ask that you support climate education. To every Connecticut resident who might read this, I ask that you write to your legislator and ask that they support HB 5285. I ask everyone to support our students’ education and by extension, our future.

Maebel Haynes is a sophomore at E.O. Smith High School, and director of Sunrise Storrs