A bill that would give school districts the opportunity to apply for state-funded climate science training grants for teachers passed the Maine House of Representatives on Wednesday over the objections of Republicans who said it would cost too much and isn’t needed.

The House voted 82-54 in favor of L.D. 1902, which was introduced by Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York.

“This is a good idea,” said Rep. Michael Brennan, D-Portland. “What it does is simply allow school districts and teachers to partner with community based organizations to develop projects, curriculum and efforts to address climate crisis education. We desperately need that.”

The idea came from the Maine Climate Council, Brennan said, and from Maine teachers who say they need climate science training. The bill enjoys overwhelming support from Maine teachers and students, he said. Maine science teachers have identified it as their number one training need.

But Rep. Paul Sterns, R-Guilford, said there is a plethora of suitable climate science material available for interested teachers who instruct students of almost any grade level. He said the state shouldn’t have to spend $3 million to provide teachers with training that could be had for free.

This vote shouldn’t be about whether or not a lawmaker believes in climate change, Stearns said.


“I would encourage members to consider whether we are voting about climate change, that big topic, or are we voting about whether to pass a bill with a $3 million price tag because there isn’t enough material available for our instruction of science to take place,” Stearns said.

Three Republicans crossed party lines to support the bill – Patrick Corey of Windham, Sawin Millett of Waterford, and Joel Stetkis of Canaan. All Democrats who were present for the Wednesday afternoon vote supported the pilot program.

The Maine Department of Education has not staked out a position on the bill. In March, the department will release the first of two packages of teacher-developed learning modules that will focus on climate science that supports its recently adopted science standards.

The state will offer free training to teachers on how to incorporate those plans into their classrooms.

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