Texas Takes Step Forward on Teaching About Climate Change

State Board of Education Gives Approval to Standards That Beef Up Coverage of Climate Change in Selected High School Science Classes

June 25, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas –The State Board of Education today voted to approve new curriculum standards for selected high school courses, marking a limited but important step forward in teaching Texas students about climate change.

“Texas does one of the worst jobs in the country when it comes to making sure students learn about climate change,” said Carisa Lopez, political director at the Texas Freedom Network. “We hope today’s vote marks a real effort to take politics out of our schools and teach the truth about what scientists warn is a global crisis. That’s especially important as Texans continue to experience increasingly extreme weather events, like disastrous winter storms and severe heat and droughts in summer, that threaten our power grid and our communities.”

The state board gave final approval to new curriculum standards, drafted by educators and other curriculum writers earlier this year, for high school elective science courses. Two of those courses will include coverage of climate change that is substantially more robust than all of the standards adopted by the board in 2009. Those 2009 standards earned Texas an F — one of six states with a failing grade — in a report card released last year by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund and the National Center for Science Education. That report card (climategrades.org) examined how science standards in all 50 states address climate change.

State board members in 2009 rejected teaching about climate change as “hooey” and not based on sound science. As a result, Texas science standards for grades K-12 adopted that year barely mention the subject. When they do, the standards suggest climate change might not even be happening.

Even with the approval of these new standards for high school science electives, however, the board has much work to do. Board members approved limited coverage of climate change in new standards for required high school science courses last fall. The board will consider drafts of new science standards for grades K-8 in the second half of this year.

“The current science standards in Texas are so bad that virtually any mention of climate change in the new standards would mark an improvement,” Lopez said. “But students deserve so much more. The evidence is overwhelming that human-caused climate change is a real and serious crisis. Students should learn about this so that they can become informed voters and are prepared to participate in responsible public debate about how to address a serious problem they will inherit.”

The courses with beefed-up standards on climate change include Earth Systems Science and Environmental Systems. The board could consider standards for K-8 science courses in September and November.


The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice.