Annapolis, MD, United States (AHN) – All public schools in Maryland must now have environmental education incorporated into their curriculum following action by the state’s Board of Education.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to require local public school systems to provide a multi-disciplinary environmental education program. It rejected a proposal making environmental education a graduation requirement, which some board members said would add to the workload of seniors.
Environmental literacy will be taught to students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade through existing science and other classes. Each program will be designed by administrators according to the resources of their own school system. The program will be reviewed by the state Department of Education every five years.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley had urged board members to support the regulation making environmental literacy a requirement.
”Studies have demonstrated that environmental education increases student achievement, sparks interest in math and science, and provides the skills necessary to contribute to and compete in an increasingly green economy,” the governor wrote in a column in the Baltimore Sun in July.
O’Malley is working closely with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to enact a federal law, No Child Left Inside, that would train teachers to provide quality environmental education and offer incentives to states that initiate literacy programs.
A coalition of more than 200 groups is pushing Congress to approve No Child Left Inside. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation cites numerous benefits of environmental education, including addressing a condition called “nature deficit disorder” that results from the amount of time — six hours — children currently spend daily in front of a computer and television compared to the four minutes they spend in unstructured outdoor play.