Reading, Writing … and Recycling

EEI: Environmental literacy inches closer in California

Unfortunately, discussions about the future of K-12 public education in California typically focus on the state’s massive budget problems.  Talks of educational reform seem to exclusively revolve around teacher accountability and charter schools.  Very little of the dialogue centers on how we can educate students more effectively and with new, engaging curriculum. 

But on Oct. 17-18, environmental content will be the focus at the Green California Schools Summit at the Pasadena Convention Center.

California’s budget crisis has been so severe that students have not received new textbooks in the last three years, and they may not receive new ones until 2015.  That means that a student that was a fifth grader in 2008 will never use a state textbook to learn about the United States’ first African American President, the loss of Pluto as a planet, or the global economic recession.

However, an interim solution for environmental education is moving forward: the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI). It’s progress, but the curriculum program to develop environmental literacy in California’s 6 million public school students and their 150,000 teachers won’t reach classrooms in the next few years.

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Life Lessons

The governor can show he's serious about environmental change by securing funding for implementation of just approved green curricula

Gov. Schwarzenegger gave his State of the State speech yesterday. A pretty depressing topic, to be sure. However, he did rightly focus on the need to improve California’s education system. His most powerful statement asked, “Why are we spending more on prisons than education?” Why indeed.

His speech came amid the state’s bid to get hundreds of millions in federal “Race to the Top” funds to implement educational reform legislation that includes greater performance accountability. But lost in the week of state education focus was the California Board of Education’s unanimous vote to approve 76 units of multi-disciplinary environmental education curricula. The units have been completed under the auspices of state Sen. Fran Pavley’s Education and the Environment Initiative (AB 1548). The approval marks the birth of formal, public school environmental education in California.

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