Washington state Department of Health wants to teach children that global warming and racism are public health problems

Dec 7, 2022

Last week the state Department of Health (DOH) released what it describes as “free classroom learning materials” for teaching students in Washington state that “climate change is an urgent women’s health concern,” and “racism is a major public health challenge as well.” (Module 2, page 4.)

Teachers are told that using this radical curriculum will count toward their yearly professional licensing requirements.  The DOH materials make various unsupported assertions about climate and health.  Educators with high standards will recognize these modules for what they are – an effort to use Critical Race Theory to undermine scientific logic and reasoning.

The DOH “learning materials” include population mapping software, yet include no warning that population maps cannot be used to prove cause and effect. Not all factors affecting health outcomes are the result of race and geography.

Nevertheless, these DOH “learning materials” push students to reach the pre-determined conclusions about the climate that DOH employees prefer.

For example, these materials suggest wildfires cause asthma in children. This is simply false. The American Lung Association says asthma has many causes, starting with heredity, allergies, serious lung infections in infancy and childhood, smoking, occupational exposures, indoor air pollution and obesity.

The DOH materials also attack science. They declare “Science has a long history of sexism” and tell students to “recognize the long history of racism and sexism in American science, medicine and politics” which “still happens today.” For example, page 16 of the Module 4 Powerpoint includes this graphic:

Finally, these materials exhort teachers to tell students to take political action.

The materials are full of statements like “use science for justice,” “work together for climate justice,” and “use science for action and leadership that responds to current/historical misuses of science.” (Module 5, page 9.)

These materials demonstrate how government propaganda is used to indoctrinate students in a narrow, anti-science point of view which takes complicated subjects and reduces them to simplistic solutions. 

Meanwhile, teaching students about real social harm is neglected. As this Seattle Times opinion piece by Danny Westneat observes, 2,000 people died of drug overdoses last year in Washington, a 66 percent increase since 2019.

Drug overdoses kill thousands of people in Washington state. Climate change is not, but it certainly is the issue used for irresponsible fear-mongering. According to hard data, the real evidence, the far more real public health emergency in front of us today is drug abuse, not political speculation about racism or climate change.

With state officials pushing harmful and divisive curriculum in public schools, it’s no wonder families are seeking alternatives, and are creating more demand than ever for real school choice and wider access to high-quality learning.