Agency of Education spox says local educators determine what’s appropriate for climate-related instruction

Wikimedia Commons/Sydney

CLIMATE EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS:  The Agency of Education says climate-related material appears throughout curricula, but it’s ultimately up to local educators to determine how the topic is taught in classrooms.

According to Ted Fisher, director of communications and legislative affairs for the Vermont Agency of Education, climate change-related material is a necessary part of multiple subjects in schools.

“It’s pretty difficult to responsibly teach anything in the natural sciences — so like geography, physics, any sort of general science — [without addressing climate change],” he said. “I don’t think it’s controversial at all. It is one of the key issues of our time.”

Fisher recently sat down with True North Reports at the AOE main office building to discuss climate change education in Vermont schools.

Vermont Agency of Education

Ted Fisher, director of communications and legislative affairs for the Vermont Agency of Education

When asked how climate science is dealt with in education, he said that climate science is unavoidable in multiple education subjects, but that the subject matter is generally left to local educators to determine how it is addressed in public schools.

Climate change, Fisher said, can be an appropriate topic for many subjects, from learning about the scientific method to studying weather and climate statistics.

“You could use climate change to teach a range of different things. … I don’t really see sort of like a divisive acrimonious culture growing up around it,” he added.

He said his office is not concerned that schools are churning out climate change activists by offering climate education.

“We aren’t concerned about it,” Fisher said. “Students are amazing young people, particularly students in high school. Oftentimes they get politically active on a range of different issues sort of on their own.”

The Vermont Energy Education Program

In April, True North reported that the Montpelier-based nonprofit group the Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) is active in about 80 percent of Vermont schools. According to the group’s website, VEEP exists to “help Vermont students, teachers, and school communities build a deep understanding of energy and climate with interactive workshops, equipment, and action programs.”

In testimony before the House Education Committee in April, Andy Shapiro, VEEP’s energy engineer, said educational efforts regarding green technologies should focus on youth.

“I realized it was pretty hard to convince adults about payback, but kids, they just want to know, does this stuff work?” Shaprio told committee members. “They generally think [green energy policies] are a good idea.”

VEEP appears to actively promote student activism in climate change politics. On the organization’s Climate Action Plan poster on its website, the group asks students “What can we do in our state?” and “What can we do at school?”

Fisher said VEEP does not work directly with the Vermont Energy Education Program. True North Reports reached out to the the organization for comment on this story, but VEEP did not return multiple requests for comment.

In an exchange with Matthew Smith, public relations manager for Efficiency Vermont, he said that VEEP began under the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), but has since emerged into its own private entity. Since 2013, VEEP has existed as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is the parent organization of Efficiency Vermont.

Fisher said it’s currently difficult to tell exactly how many schools the organization is involved in.

However, he noted that interactions between the public and schools have gotten heated, such as during various school board meetings over the past few years.

“Where we get worried is when political conversations stop being focused on what’s right for kids,” Fisher said. … There are certain debates in the world that can be very controversial for the adults in the community and very controversial at the school board level, and it doesn’t necessarily impact adversely the ability for students to learn.”

He said education policy in general is becoming divisive in other states, and to a lesser degree in Vermont.

“I think parents are just more involved in their kids’ education, and certainly we’ve seen a sometimes troubling trend nationally that Vermont has actually been less involved in — of just like really politically divisive school board meetings,” Fisher said.

He added that in some cases there will be debates “that are going to be necessarily divisive and they are important because they matter for student’s rights.” He said other debates that occur sometimes “don’t serve the best interest of kids.”

On how climate change education materials are used in Vermont schools, Fisher said, “Remember, it’s ultimately the teacher. … Oftentimes third parties create great resources and materials that can just be used as a handout or to background reading for class discussion or something. … It’s a question of who is teaching and how it’s used.”

The Next Generation Science Standards

Both VEEP’s program and Vermont’s overall education policy are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. A review of the curriculum by the organization Advancing Earth and Space Science seems to suggest that climate change-related material would be deeply embedded into what children will learn.

“Earth and space science plays a prominent role in the new standards, with particular emphasis on critical Earth issues such as climate change, sustainability, and human impacts on Earth systems. In the states that choose to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), American youth will have a rigorous practice-based formal education in these important areas.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) “started as a creation of state government.” VEEP was started under Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, an independent nonprofit group.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Sydney and Vermont Agency of Education

10 thoughts on “Agency of Education spox says local educators determine what’s appropriate for climate-related instruction

  1. The education issue is part of a bigger roll out, just one spoke in the wheel of a very unforgiving rule, experienced by most of the world.

    We are so spoiled, ungrateful and indoctrinated, we know not what we have…

    Vermont is deep into the format laid out in this movie, it can be a bit unsettling to watch, more so because they don’t have a clear solution, that has worked many times over, however, there is a good book that does lay out all the answers, much better reading than Rules for Radicals, despite the later becoming Vermont’s handbook for society.

  2. So again we quibble about the merits of WHAT’S being taught. It’s like arguing about the minutia of a required menu…”you have to have catchup with your fries”. Free citizens need to use schooling as an a la carte vended service…”I don’t want fries…my kid likes baked potato.” If parents were picking what they want taught and who they want teaching it we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It would be up to them to determine the merits of an unlimited menu of what’s they might want to use to educate their kids. The market of what’s offered would explode.

  3. Interestingly, according to AccuWeather at least, the record low temperature in my town for this weekend was 28 degrees, set in 1915. And then, ten years later, in 1925, the record high temperature of 98 degrees was set.

    And this Saturday, 100+- years after the records were set, the temperatures are forecast to be 62 degrees for a high and 48 degrees for a low.

    The normal (average/mean/medium) temperatures for this Saturday are 75 degrees for a high, and 49 degrees for a low.

    Yes, these are weather forecasts, and we all know the weather person gets it right 100% of the time…right? But I wonder what the Agency of Education SPOX person would glean from this information. Then, I wonder what this SPOX person is teaching the school kids about it.

    Keep in mind, too, that this SPOX person is also lobbying the legislature to change the law (H.483) relating to the accountability and oversight of approved independent schools that are eligible to receive public tuition. It seems this SPOX person wants all schools, public and independent, to see the world only as the AOE does.

    • Jay you’ll confuse people with these numbers.

      I lonve the game they play…we are 10 degree above average, the world is experiencing epic climate change!

      We are so stupid we don’t even know what average means, and the fact that there are variation around the average and we won’t experience the average temperature on a regular basis ever.

      Like your grade at the end of the class, you got a b+, 89. But none of your test scores were 89, but then we don’t grade with numbers anymore. This is a reflection of our educational system, where they don’t know how to make change, tell time, but they do know all the latest kinky sex.

      We need to do some timber stand improvement, we got some unproductive diseased trees in Montpelier.

  4. Another example of the government stalking and preying upon the mind of a child. They decide, not the parent, not the community, not the taxpayer. The overlords have spoken, now bow down and submit. Had enough yet? Anyone realizing how dangerous and destructive these people truly are to children? Rise up or get run over.

  5. So any teacher is now a climatologist without the benefit of years of education on the subject and access to ALL information not just the ipcc propaganda pushing one world agenda for the UN. It shouldn’t be part of the curriculum if they don’t know what their talking about. PERIOD..Of course even the professional climateers are swayed by the money pushing the hoax so who are the kids left to believe? Even the weather person’s are pushing the great lie which has been outed with scientific data of NO warming in 7 years on one study and 15 on another. Meanwhile the kids are left thinking we’re all gonna die in 20 years or what ever the manufactured date is now…

  6. I’m speechless at this article. The jury is definitely still out on climate change and its cult. But lefty teachers are force-feeding it to every kid in VT. Forget critical thinking. Yeah, the climate’s changing but it always has. Is man impacting it? Show me, don’t TELL ME, because I haven’t seen it yet. Electric cars? Enrich China, similar carbon footprint to combustion engines, grid can’t handle them. No billboards but giant windmills topping our Green Mountains and billboard-sized solar panels pushing out wildlife and destroying our beauty without proven results everywhere the eye can see. House solar is subsidized by taxpayers as that business can’t keep itself afloat. Those greenies that own the solar companies are getting rich and so are their favorite lefty politicians. I’m baffled daily by the number of stupid sheep that now live in our state and the liberal elite wolves that control it.

  7. The teachers union’s nonprofit experimental education foundation worked with UNESCO, a United Nations organization, and Harvard University to develop k-12 lesson plans on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which is on the NEA website. These people act like this is not intentionally occuring, while it is with the help of NGO organizations. The kindergarten workbook focuses on hunger. None of this is random or accidental. It is all by design.

  8. So who funds this politically agendized nonsense. Catch it?:

    “In April, True North reported that the Montpelier-based nonprofit group the “Vermont Energy Education Program” (VEEP) is active in about 80 percent of Vermont schools.”

    See? Just another Montpelier political “non profit” that now has their misguided cult tentacles in 80% of VT schools, to indoctrinate THEIR agenda. And the VT Dept of Eduction is fine with that.. ..What if out of state Republicans started a similar Montpelier “non profit” and demanded to have their program & agenda force fed into 80% of VT schools. Think that would be allowed by the State? Nope !!!! But this Eco-Enviro non profit, the VT Education Dept will roll out the red carpet…NO QUESTIONS ASKED? What(and who) gives this Eco-Enviro non profit the right of access to 80% of VT schools and children? Would a religious group be allowed similar school access? Nope! Yet this Eco-Enviro VEEP non profit is itself a…. religious cult of “Klimate” !!!

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