Md. First State in USA to Approve Environmental Graduation Requirement - Southern Maryland Headline News

Md. First State in USA to Approve Environmental Graduation Requirement

BALTIMORE (June 21, 2011) — Governor Martin O’Malley praised the Maryland State Board of Education today on the final vote approving an Environmental Literacy Graduation Requirement. The school board vote makes Maryland the first state in the country to pass such a requirement for graduation, ensuring that every student receive a environmental education that meets the approval of the State Superintendent of Schools.

“This is a defining moment for education in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “By approving this environmental graduation requirement, the Board of Education is ensuring that our young people graduate with a keen understanding of and connection to the natural world. Only through exposure to nature and education about our fragile ecosystem can we create the next generation of stewards.”

Maryland citizens and organizations across the State overwhelmingly supported this requirement during the public comment period and praised the Board for establishing this and other leading environmental education initiatives, according to a press release from the Dept. of Natural Resources.

Under the graduation requirement, public schools will be required to infuse core subjects with lessons about conservation, smart growth and the health of our natural world. Local school systems will have the ability to shape their programs to be relevant to their county, but all will align with standards set by the State. Every five years, the local school systems will report to the State to guarantee that students are meeting the requirements.

The DNR press release says the State can implement the new requirement without additional funding or staff. Partner groups like the Governor’s Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature (co-chaired by the State Superintendent of Schools and the Secretary of Natural Resources) and the Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition are collaborating to provide resources and tools to make this easier for local school systems. The new requirement will position the State for much-needed federal funding through the No Child Left Inside Act currently before Congress.

The requirement takes effect for students entering high school in 2011-2012 and will not require additional courses. School systems will inform students and parents of the requirement, ensure the environmental literacy standards are infused within existing curricular areas, and identify specific opportunities for students to address the standards within multiple disciplines. School system and Maryland State Department of Education staff will work together to create and approve a program that students can complete in each school system.

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