An ever-changing energy industry combined with greater consumption and public demand for clean energy are placing increasing pressure on schools to expand the science curriculum. In response to these trends, more and more school districts across the country are including so-called green energy and green science courses as part of the curriculum.
Unfortunately, North Carolina has not escaped this tidal wave of environmental activism. Last week, Reps. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Lucy Allen (D-Franklin) and Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) introduced HB 1075, titled the “Teach ‘Green Science’ in High Schools” bill.
This is bad legislation for several reasons. First, “Green Science,” as much as you want to dress up the term, still lacks a clear and accepted definition. Ask three people what “green” means, you’ll get three different answers. Science refers to a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. The fact is, “green” is a nebulous, gauzy term. If definitions are still evolving, how is it even possible to teach about a fixed body of knowledge?
Regrettably, most of what is taught in school under green or environmental education classes is not based on science, but is based on a particular philosophy or political viewpoint. That said, lacking definition and agreed upon content, HB 1075 merely serves as another vehicle for environmentalists to put advocacy into the curriculum. According to Environment North Carolina, one of North Carolina’s most active liberal advocacy groups for environmental concerns, the main sponsors of HB 1075 all have environmental scorecard rankings of between 70 and 100 percent.
Aside from questions on environmental activism, concerns also exist about the wisdom of the Legislature micromanaging school curricula The State Board of Education is charged with broad authority over what our schools teach. Legislating what is to be taught in our schools only serves to undercut the board’s authority and s to politicize the classroom.
For the past two decades, newspapers have been filled with reports detailing the poor performance of U.S. students in international comparisons of math and science scores. All the handwringing raises the question: how will U. S. students be able to compete in an increasingly competitive world? Fortunately, the labor markets have already helped to answer that question: a solid understanding of math and science.
Should HB 1075 become law, a class in “green science” may help to prick the interest of young people. However, the course will also serve to divert them further away from what they need most: mathematical and scientific proficiency. Simple economics teaches the best jobs go to those with knowledge, skills and proficiencies – and not to those who espouse a certain political viewpoint.
These considerations make HB 1075 an easy choice for “Bad Bill of the Week.” Let’s hope it’s just as easy for the Legislature to make sure this bill is never passed.