The Center for the Next Generation update from uberboomer Matt James, President

With Maryland in the lead, states are infusing their public school curricula with outside activities to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of the environment they live in.

Kids attending public schools in Maryland will now graduate from high school armed with additional knowledge about the world around them: state officials have approved a plan that requires school systems to include environmental literacy as part of every student’s public school education.

Maryland is the first state to implement such a program, but other states aren’t far behind as part of a growing national movement to teach young people more about the environment they live in. More than 40 other states are examining other approaches, and Congress is considering a bi-partisan bill — the No Child Left Inside Act — that would support state initiatives.

“There are no mandates here,” says Sarah Bodor of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a regional group based in Annapolis, Maryland that has organized a nationwide campaign to expand environmental education. “Each state is developing its own plan. The idea is to connect students to nature, but it’s up to each local education agency to develop their own ideas.”

Maryland jumped to the fore over the summer when a task force appointed by the state superintendent of public schools approved a plan that required each school system to weave an environmental component into the curriculum. At the same time, school systems were given flexibility to design their own programs.

Among efforts in other states, Oregon is developing plans to add environmental elements to science, math, health and social studies classes in grades 8 through 12.  Maine is targeting subjects taught in grades 4, 8 and 11. In New Jersey, environmental science questions are included in Department of Education state tests for 4th, 8th and 11th grades.

Read the full article posted by TCNG’s staff January 4, 2012. The Center for the Next Generation is a nonprofit aimed at building support for advanced energy and sustainability and America’s children and families. TCNG is a new voice to help frame the critical issues that affect the next generation.

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