Raleigh lawmakers have put learning about nature and the environment in public schools on the chopping block. North Carolina’s House Bill 8 proposes eliminating earth science as a graduation requirement and replacing it with computer science.
While computer science is an essential skill that students need in today’s world, It is not a replacement for earth science. Earth science is a critical subject that teaches students about the planet they live on, its systems and processes, and how they can affect it. Eliminating it from the curriculum would mean that students would not learn about climate change and how their actions impact the environment. It’s akin to the other attacks on public education from the right wing, including the suggestion of entirely removing science and social studies from elementary curriculum by Lt. Governor Mark Robinson.
The idea that computer science is more important than earth science ignores the fact that these subjects are not mutually exclusive. There is no reason that students can’t learn both subjects and benefit from a well-rounded education. By removing earth science, we would be limiting the breadth of students’ knowledge and denying them the opportunity to learn about a vital aspect of our state.
The bill was filed by Wake County Republican Erin Paré and is co-sponsored by two of the three chairs of the House Education Committee.
“Globally, we are facing the largest environmental challenges ever, probably in the history of humankind,” Dr. Gail Jones, a professor of science education at North Carolina State University, told the News & Observer. “To eliminate the one environmental earth course in our curriculum that can help educate, and help the next generation understand what’s going on with climate change, seems to be a confusing proposal.”
House Bill 8 is misguided and shortsighted. While computer science is an important field, it should not come at the expense of earth science. Both subjects are essential, and students should have the opportunity to learn about both.