A Must Read for Parents and Teachers: “Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America”

Written by Katy Farber

Way back in 2017, I reported here about the propaganda delivered to every science teacher in the nation, a science-looking fake textbook filled with flawed studies, discredited scientists, and distraction from the issue of climate change. 

But that was only the tip of the (melting) iceberg. 

Investigative journalist, Katie Worth, has written Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught In America, a scathing, and terrifying account of the campaign to misinform America’s students and their families about the science and facts of climate change. 

From page one, we see a map of the nation, with each state issued a grade on climate change education. The reader notices immediately the vast divide between the red and blue states in regards to how their school children are able to access accurate climate science. With meticulous precision, depending on where you are born, Worth chronicles that your child might receive no climate change education (not an uttered word about it in school), or a watered down “both sides” version of climate change, or several, high quality exposures to the science, leading to an electorate that has no shared scientific understandings based on their education. 

This is no accident. This is dangerous. And it is working. 

According to Miseducation, as of 2019, 30% of Americans falsely believed global warming was mostly natural. 

The fossil fuel industry used big tobacco’s playbook to fuel its campaign of denial, confusion, and misinformation. Then the industry relied on conservative politicians, textbook companies, and the strain on the educational system to infiltrate public schools with watered down and skewed curricular resources and standards. They also organized efforts to make sure climate change language was not included in state standards. 

This book is eye opening in its scope, its depth, and its historical accounts of the struggle of teaching evolution, which then fed into the resistance to climate change education. 

According to Worth, this is a uniquely American problem. The US is the only country in the world that has a “multi-decade, multi-billion dollar deny-delay-confuse campaign that spread the idea that climate science is debatable, and that it was “implanted and sustained.” This book certainly makes the case that once you read it, you cannot unsee it. It’s like a large tangled puzzle coming together. 

As a teacher, my favorite part of the book is the openness of the student’s accounts when they learn climate science and share this learning with their families. In many cases, that is where change happens and where hope lies. Because I know that when children understand what’s happening in their world, they learn better, and love to share their knowledge.

In the book, we also meet several educators who are teaching climate science, whether or not their state has any standards to support it, or they teach a water downed version, or have  adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). When there’s misinformation, it is the educator’s job to teach students to develop critical thinking skills, evaluate sources, and to constantly ask themselves, is this true, and how do I know? No matter what the world is telling them, or in many cases, their own families.

This book is a must read for any educator, especially science teachers and school leaders, but also parents and child advocates. We can, and must do better to educate our students – to learn from the past and prepare for the future, which Katie Worth chronicles for us so clearly in Miseducation.

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