Environmental Literacy Planning

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2015 Environmental Literacy Summit in Review

The 2015 Environmental Literacy Summit was held March 15 at the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque. Judy Braus, the Executive Director of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) was our guest speaker, and the second draft of the Environmental Literacy Plan was presented.

Judy also updated us on the state of Environmental Literacy Plans around North America (State Environmental Literacy Plans 2014 Status Report).

Help is Needed!

We still need to hold meetings with stakeholder groups, including parents, tribal schools, administrators, business, and other environmental groups to incorporate their perspectives. Contact us if you can hold a meeting, even with just a small group or a legislator.

Background

New Mexico launched an Environmental Literacy Planning event on January 5, 2012 at the Stewart Udall Conference Center in Santa Fe. This meeting commenced the process that will result in a plan to bring environmental education into NM schools.

State EE communities nationwide are working toward creating Environmental Literacy Plans for their states.  The plans are developed for the preparation of our schoolchildren from kindergarten through high school graduation, with the hope and expectation that improved environmental education throughout our public school curricula will result in future adult citizens that become responsible stewards of our natural resources.

The Center on Education Policy’s 2008 report, Instructional Time in Elementary Schools: A Closer Look at Changes for Specific Subjects,demonstrated the narrowing of educational focus brought by the No Child Left Behind legislation, with a majority of school districts adding time to teach language arts and math, while reducing time spent teaching social studies and science.   Students and society are shortchanged by the dramatic reduction in the breadth of education of our students, brought on by efforts to comply with the No Child Left behind Act.  Further, a 2005 study by the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, Environmental Literacy in America, found that 68% of Americans failed a basic quiz on awareness of environmental topics.

With problems such as climate change, childhood obesity, habitat destruction and other rampant environmental problems, we must respond by defining and formalizing environmental education.  The No Child Left Inside Coalition has led this campaign, and there has been a nationwide effort to create state environmental literacy plans, spurred by the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 through 2011.  Co-sponsors of the bill included Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator Tom Udall, Rep. Martin Heinrich, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, all from New Mexico. The bill has not passed Congress, but many states have produced outstanding environmental literacy plans, and New Mexico’s is underway.

The state stakeholder group defines Environmental Literacy for their state and determines what educational courses, field experience, teacher training, and other educational inputs would result in environmentally literate high school graduates.  Ideally, the plan would be adopted by the state’s public education department or a natural resource agency.

The Environmental Education Association of New Mexico, along with state agency partners and other nonprofits, are in the process of developing an Environmental Literacy Planning process for New Mexico.

News about Environmental Literacy Planning