September 15, 2015—Berkeley, CA. Environmental literacy has never been more important than it is now. With climate change, drought, overfishing, ocean acidification, and many more environmental challenges of today, we need every student who graduates from California K–12 schools to be environmentally literate. Creating a prosperous, healthy, and safe future for California depends on residents making wise environmental choices essential to our quality of life.
California's new Blueprint for Environmental Literacy is poised to support such a vision. In 2014, the Lawrence Hall of Science's associate director, Craig Strang, along with the California Academy of Science's Elizabeth Babcock, were appointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to cochair the California Environmental Literacy Task Force and create a blueprint for achieving environmental literacy for all California students. This is the first such effort in the state since 2002.
Of the 520 California schools surveyed by the task force, only 13% indicated that their schools had successfully integrated environmental education into their curriculum. To help meet that need, the new Blueprint for Environmental Literacy provides an extensive guide detailing achievable strategies and steps for integrating environmental education into California schools—from making environmental education a priority both in and outside the classroom and finding sustainable funding sources, to ensuring equitable access for all students.
Achieving environmental literacy is also integral to successfully reaching the goals of both the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by California in 2013 and 2010, respectively. By mastering environmental literacy concepts present in the standards through engagement with the environment, students learn to think like scientists, to form explanations supported by evidence, and to write about and discuss their ideas in civil discourse, which are all benchmarks of achieving California's state standards for science education.
"To become environmentally literate, learners need to engage with the environment in their classrooms, in gardens and green spaces, in their communities, at aquariums and science centers, and in wild and natural places," says Strang. "Through the collaborative efforts described in the Blueprint, I believe we can work together to provide these opportunities and create a better environmental future for California."
The California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy was officially released at a press conference on Tuesday, September 15, at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Supervisor Torlakson, Craig Strang, and members of the task force attended.
In addition to the recommendations in the California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, the Lawrence Hall of Science is equipped to support teachers, schools, and districts with strategies, resources, and consistent science curriculum to implement the recommendations in the California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.
About the Lawrence Hall of Science The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, investigates, creates, and evaluates educational materials and methods, professional development programs, and hands-on learning experiences for science centers, schools, community organizations, and homes. Every year programs from the Hall serve millions of students, over 165,000 visitors, and more than 20,000 teachers nationally and internationally. The Hall is committed to providing every person access to high-quality, effective science and mathematics learning opportunities to enrich lives, inform communities, and advance society.