by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
New Jersey Democratic governor Phil Murphy unveiled a taxpayer-funded office that aims to turn public school students into “climate leaders,” an effort that includes a call for kindergartners to donate to environmental groups.
Murphy on Tuesday announced the formation of the state’s Office of Climate Change Education, which will work to cultivate the “next generation of climate leaders” through New Jersey public schools. That effort will see the office steer millions in public money to implement the state’s Climate Change Education standards, which require public schools to infuse climate-focused instruction into most subjects taught at every grade level. The standards, according to the New Jersey Department of Education, call on kindergarten teachers to encourage their students to join the “fight against climate change,” including by “making donations.”
Murphy’s announcement reflects a growing push from prominent Democrats to use taxpayer cash to inspire young people—both in America and abroad—to join the fight against the “climate crisis.” The Biden administration, for example, has allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding to create “curricular materials” that spur K-12 students to become “climate justice action researchers and change agents,” the Washington Free Beacon reported in June. President Joe Biden’s U.S. Agency for International Development has also touted plans to spend billions supporting “behavior change and communications campaigns” that “encourage youth’s active participation” in the climate movement.
Murphy, whose office did not return a request for comment, has advanced an array of controversial climate measures since becoming governor of New Jersey in 2018.
In 2020, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to mandate its public school teachers to incorporate climate change instruction at every grade level. The topic also must be included in most subjects, including seemingly unrelated ones.