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President Trump's reported to be ready to sign disaster relief bill without money for border security. Also on the Friday rundown: House bills would give millions a path to citizenship; and remembering California’s second-deadliest disaster.

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Teaching Climate Change in SD Classrooms Still Challenging

People living in South Dakota's urban areas are more likely to believe severe weather events are related to global warming than those living in rural areas, according to a map created by Yale University. (weather.gov)
People living in South Dakota's urban areas are more likely to believe severe weather events are related to global warming than those living in rural areas, according to a map created by Yale University. (weather.gov)
April 25, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A new poll says parents and teachers across the nation support a curriculum that includes climate change education, but more than half of teachers aren't tackling it either because it's out of their subject area or they worry parents will object.

South Dakota has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which instruct teachers beginning in middle school to cover the facts of human-caused climate change.

Frank Niepold, climate education program manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), maintains the science on climate change is settled, but many people are still wrestling with the topic.

"People are experiencing this in their daily lives,” he states. “Students are experiencing this, families are experiencing this, farmers are experiencing – everyone is experiencing a variety of things, which draws them to, 'What's going on? Is this that climate change thing?'

“And then they're having real conversations. And I think that's really where we are in this country."

The poll by National Public Radio earlier this month, showed that among parents with children younger than 18, 84 percent agree climate change should be taught in schools.

At the same time, almost a third of teachers polled said they don't teach it because they worry parents will complain. Less than half of parents surveyed said they'd discussed the topic with their own children.

Earlier this year, South Dakota lawmakers considered legislation that would have required or urged the adoption of a code of ethics for public school teachers – legislation some saw as an effort to discourage the teaching of climate change.

But Niepold says in his experience, promoting a political theory about climate change is not typically something teachers wade into.

"I used to be a science teacher,” he relates. “I'm not comfortable with introducing ideology into science, and we take our philosophy of education and what's right and what's wrong and what's appropriate and what's not very seriously."

The NPR poll showed that two-thirds of Republicans and nine in 10 Democrats agree that the subject of climate change needs to be taught in school.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD