Climate Literacy Resolution

Portland, Oregon

In April 2016, the Portland Public Schools passed a resolution that supports "the concept of the development and implementation plan for integrating climate change" into science and social studies curriculum and instruction. This resolution directs the Superintendent, in partnership with Portland Public School students, teachers, and community members to develop a climate literacy implementation plan so that there are academic opportunities that address climate justice in all Portland Public Schools. This implementation plan should also include a review of current textbooks to ensure accuracy on climate change and the impact of human activities and will abandon the use of any text material that indicates doubt about the severity of climate change. In April 2017, the Portland Public Schools Climate Justice Committee (made up of community members, retired teachers, and the social studies Teachers on Special Assignment) worked to evaluate the 15 social studies and science textbooks, and none of those books were found to be in compliance with this resolution. 


This resolution was first established by a group called Educating for Climate Justice, made up of teachers, students, parents, and climate activists at the Portland Public Schools. Educating for Climate Justice drafted the first version of the resolution, and contacted several community groups to enlist their endorsement before bringing it to the school board. 


In March 2019, hundreds of Portland students walked out of their classes, two miles to the Portland Public Schools district office to demand that the district deliver the climate curriculum it had promised three years before. Two months later, 50 more students joined the Portland school board meeting again to urge their argument. In response to these student protests, the board allocated $200,000 in funding towards implementing climate change curriculum into Portland schools. This money will be used to continue implementing climate justice units in science and social studies courses, to hire a full-time curriculum coordinator, and to establish a class specifically for climate change/justice education in the high school. The new course is expected to be implemented into all Portland high schools by the 2020-21 school year, and the full curriculum will be fully implemented in every grade by the fall of 2022, marking a six-year wait since the unanimous vote to pass this resolution.