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Celebrating the Release of the California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy

Blueprint for Environmental Literacy

Today, on September 15, 2015, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is unveiling a blueprint to strengthen the environmental literacy of California’s K-12 students. GPG is extremely proud to have supported this work for the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation (CDEF) from June 2014-May 2015.

The California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy is the result of a statewide task force that met during 2014 and was composed of a wide variety of stakeholders including K-12 classroom teachers; school and district administrators; science, environmental, and outdoor educators; higher education faculty; and educational leaders from government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Superintendent Torlakson convened the task force to develop recommendations for how resources for environmental literacy should best be improved, expanded, coordinated, and integrated with new academic standards, and how these efforts should be financially supported.

Given the urgent need to address climate change, California’s drought, and other environmental problems, the time is ripe to put more energy, thought, and resources towards educating all California students about the environment.

There were several unique aspects to this effort. The task force included numerous staff from the California Department of Education (CDE), who attended all task force meetings and collaborated closely with task force members throughout the duration of the project. This collaboration sets California’s effort apart from similar efforts in other states. In addition, the task force occurred during a pivotal moment in California public education, with the adoption of new state standards that change how students are taught and the implementation of a new system of school financing that increases local control and flexibility over how dollars are spent. These sweeping changes, among others, provide important foundations for many of the recommendations in the Blueprint.

The Blueprint lays out a vision for integrating environmental literacy instruction with all other academic subjects, including social-science instruction and new California standards for English, math, and science; environmental literacy should no longer be a standalone topic, but rather a hands-on and compelling lens through which students can learn other subjects and be critically engaged in important issues in their community and the broader world. In addition, the report argues that all students must have access to the many kinds of experiences that build environmental literacy, including in the classroom, on school grounds, on field trips, and in the outdoors.

GPG was deeply involved in facilitating the work of the task force and developing the final blueprint. Between June 2014-May 2015 we:

  1. Planned, designed, and facilitated four in-person meetings of the task force;
  2. Facilitated six small task force work groups in developing content memos on specific topics such as access to different learning environments, professional learning, instructional materials, system integration, assessment, and sustainable funding;
  3. Designed and facilitated two listening sessions at major statewide conferences to gather input from other stakeholders;
  4. Facilitated several rounds of feedback with task force members and the CDE on the final report; worked to build consensus among members around key ideas; and incorporated feedback into Blueprint drafts; and
  5. Provided writing, research, and project management to develop the final California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, which contains actionable, detailed, and comprehensive recommendations for building a statewide system that supports environmental literacy for all K-12 students.

For a digital copy of the California Blueprint for Environmental Literacy please visit: http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/environliteracyblueprint.asp

For the CDE press release about the Blueprint, please visit: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr15/yr15rel71.asp

GPG extends deep thanks to those who participated in or supported this project, including the highly dedicated task force members and co-chairs, staff from the CDE, and the funders that supported this project: the Pisces Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, and Ten Strands.