WASHINGTON — The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) released the National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability, a call for action to ensure sustainability education is accessible to all students across the U.S.

The plan discusses a large goal for all 50 states to adopt a comprehensive green schools policy that includes a graduation requirement around sustainability literacy by 2040.

“When the U.S. Department of Education published its Green Ribbon Schools award, which called for all K-12 graduates to be environmentally literate, we received that as a directive for the community to band together and figure out how we will ensure that happens,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “This National Action Plan represents the perspectives of the leading minds and the strongest champions of EfS [Education for Sustainability] for the first time together with one voice committing to a series of actions that will ensure that every student graduating from a U.S. K-12 school will be environmentally literate by the year 2040.”

The action plan contains 11 sections that examine critical elements involved in ensuring every student receives sustainability education by the goal year of 2040. These categories include collaboration, economic drivers, integrated content and curriculum, leadership, policy, pre-service teacher preparation, professional development, public awareness, research, student assessment, and teacher evaluation.

Each section is penned by a different expert in the EfS field, with additional content to be provided by schools and business contributors.

“EfS increases student engagement and is a catalyst for both academic achievement and drop-out prevention, providing a meaningful context to prepare students for careers and life beyond school,” said David Sobel, senior faculty at Antioch University New England and lead author of the National Action Plan. “EfS allows schools, districts, and states to focus simultaneously on preparation for college, their careers, and civic involvement by providing students opportunities to explore and improve social, economic, and environmental conditions at home and abroad. And recent national calls to prioritize STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] education are deeply enriched by the interdisciplinary nature of EfS.”

This plan came together following a June 2013 meeting in which the Center for Green Schools and HMH brought together stakeholders from several different fields, including the academic, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. Subject matter experts undertook the task of recommending key actions that, collectively, outline a pathway to achieve the ambitious goal of environmental literacy within this generation. The action plan intends to propel efforts to affect policies and practices through collaboration, alignment, and large-scale implementation.

“We’re calling on our colleagues within the education sector to read this National Action Plan, consider your role in educating for sustainability, and join us to take action to ensure all students graduate empowered and enthusiastic about their futures,” said Mary Cullinane, chief content officer and executive vice president, corporate affairs, HMH.

Publication date: 11/3/2014

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