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June 21, 2011

Green literacy new graduation requirement in MD


Maryland public school students will need to know their green to graduate under a new policy adopted today by the state board of education.

State officials and environmental activists called the vote "historic" and said Maryland has become the first state in the nation to require environmental literacy to graduate from high school. Under the rule, public schools will be required to work lessons about conservation, smart growth and the health of our natural world into their core subjects like science and social studies.

The requirement applies to students entering high school this fall.  Local school systems will be able to shape those lessons to be relevant to their communities, but all will have to meet standards set by the state. School systems will have to report to the state every five years on what they're doing to meet the requirements.

Gov. Martin O'Malley issued a statement calling the board's action "a defining moment for education in Maryland," while environmental advocates were even more effusive. Don Baugh, head of the No Child Left Inside Coalition promoting federal environmental literacy legislation, called it a "momentous day."

Environmentalists had initially howled over draft guidelines adopted by the state board last fall, complaining they would let school systems get by without doing anything - essentially claiming they were teaching environmental literacy simply by offering existing math and science courses. But state School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and board members reassured activists they really meant to strengthen environmental education, and advocates say the final rules seem to make that clear.

The new environmental instruction should not require any additional funding or staff, according to the governor. But by adopting the requirement Maryland may be in better position to receive federal funding for green literacy, under national No Child Left Inside legislation to be reintroduced in Congress. The bill's chief sponsor is Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat.

(Students at Baltimore's Digital Harbor high school test water in Inner Harbor. 2008 Baltimore Sun photo by Ann Torkvist)

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 4:15 PM | | Comments (17)



They won't be able to read and write, but hey, who needs real literacy when you've got "environmental literacy"?

Enjoy your third world state.

As a parent of a high school junior in Baltimore (and a practicing attorney), I can assure you of one of two things:

Either I am going to challenge this in court, or I am going to home school my daughter.

In the 40 years I have lived in Maryland, our legislators have seen fit to prove the notion that ours is the least free state in the nation. Perhaps it's time I relocate.

TW: Since your child is already a junior, the graduation requirement doesn't apply. But how does ensuring that high school graduates know something about the environment make them less free?

Edward -

I bet you do NOT home school your daughter and I bet you do NOT challenge this in court. Good one.

Maryland has many beautiful natural attractions. Learning environmental stewardship can improve their condition.

Yes, teach more unproven, highly contested, politically based dogma and opinions as though they were facts. Johnny can't read, but he has to know cow flatulence helps cause global warming to graduate.
This state came in last in the freedom ranking of states. and Annapolis wonders why. Just stick to the 3 R's.
PS to the clueless government parasites who may read this-this is EXACTLY the reason I'm sending my kids to private school. worth every penny. only wish we could move.

I applaud Maryland's new policy but it is not the first state in the country to require environmental education for graduation. North Carolina enacted a policy several years ago. I was on the committee that helped to see this policy carried through.
For more information about other states see:
And for NC specifically:

This is wonderful for MD but PA has had state standards and mandatory test in environment and ecology since 2002. We congratulate MD on all of the hard work and dedication to students.

Baltimore just rated "#6 Dirtiest American City" by Travel and Leisure, June 2011.
Studies by various state governments show persons (especially males) age 16 to 25, are THE most prone to litter/trash steets, sidewalks, parks, etc. Why is this littering going on in a supposedly civil place, where Education Week's rated Baltimore and Maryland public high school graduates #1 in "educational attainment?"

enviromental teaching is ok in moderation. But every child also needs to know the pros and cons to this policy. If a factory has to close due to an eviromental problem. Then also ask the children what if your father worked there and your personal spending will be definitely lessoned. Let them debate this issue. Teach capitalism that's how America lives. Talk about no ipod verses less carbon in the air. These are the people that will be dealing with these issues in the future. Don't teach just one way, that's not the real world

So, one more thing is added to the curriculum. I wonder what has been removed? I understand that it may be a good thing to have students understand the environment. I just hope this requirement is not one more requirement for graduation. We sometimes forget to determine this.

As a Florida educator, I've followed Maryland's ambitious efforts to improve public education and watched the state rise to #1 in the nation by many major measures (EdWeek, College Board, Newsweek). Adopting standards endorsed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is another solid move, and there is nothing inherently partisan about any topic that is addressed through balanced, academic methods.

Wish they would do the same in NY! Those of you who are against this proposition are misguided. You your kid can learn to read & write using science based information that is not "politically based dogma". Students need to take ownership of their responsibility for the environment. This is an excellent way of accomplishing that. Congratulations to the open minded leaders who are championing this.

To disseminate some confusion: environmental literacy is not a course being added to schedules. The purpose of this requirement is to be sure that students can see how our actions impact the natural world around us. This can be done without mentioning climate change once in their four years of high school. Understanding the reason the Chesapeake's fisheries have collapsed and the American Chestnut is gone from our forests and passenger pigeons no longer cloud the sky (or fill our dinner plate) is us should be enough.

I hope that they also include explaining why it is "Green" to spray the population ofthis country (and around the world) with huge jet tankers outfitted with spraying rigs on sides and tail sections. The stripes that you see in the sky are for the most part "chemtrails" and not contrails from passanger airliners. The contrails dissipate rapidly, but the chem trails spread out and usually turn a blue sky overcast as the aggregate falls to earth. So, what are they spraying to "geo-engineer" our planet? Try Barium, aluminum and biologicals such as genetically modified blood for starters. The gubamint wants to break down our immune systems, among other things. Oh yeah, if you're going to teach green, then also teach eugenics.

Maryland is ranked dead last of all states , fiftieth of fifty states, in personal freedom and 43rd in overall freedom according to a recent Mercatus Center study. When a far-left group like North American Association of Environmental Education is involved in the curriculum you can be assured that students will not be given a "fair and balanced" perspective on environmental issues. Parents should be very circumspect should they find that their child is taking one of these classes. --derekcrane,

The environment is constantly changing. Very little has to do with that caused by humans. It would be OK if they can teach the basics- like the honey and the Bee- and not distort it with the political Agenda of "Man-made" Climate Change.

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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