Beginning with the class of 2015 â€” this yearâ€™s ninth graders and all who follow them â€“ Maryland students will need to complete a program of â€śenvironmental literacyâ€ť in order to graduate from high school.
Maryland is the first state in the country to make environmental literacy a requirement for high school graduation.
On March 27 at the Kentlands Clubhouse, Laurie C. Jenkins, supervisor of Montgomery County Public Schoolsâ€™ pre-K â€“ 12 outdoor environmental education program, told a group of about 40 environmentalists, educators and others that environmental literacy is now required in the state of Maryland. Jenkins spoke to the group, which included an expert panel, at a meeting sponsored by the Muddy Branch Alliance and the Kentlands Community Foundation GO GREEN group.
Environmental literacy will enable students to weigh various sides of environmental issues to make responsible decisions, Jenkins explained.
The environmental literacy requirement is in a recently promulgated state regulation: â€śBeginning with students entering high school in 2011 â€“ 2012, all students must complete a locally designed high school program of environmental literacy that is approved by the State Superintendent of Schools.â€ť
In a subsequent interview, Jenkins said Montgomery Countyâ€™s proposed program would be submitted for approval by the state in mid-April.
According to the Maryland State Department of Education website, the purpose of Marylandâ€™s overall environmental education program is to enable students to make decisions and take actions that create and maintain an optimal relationship between themselves and the environment, and to preserve and protect the unique natural resources of Maryland, particularly those of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed (http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/environment).
During her presentation, Jenkins quoted Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), widely read scientist of the late 20th century. A paleontologist and educator at Harvard University, Gould wrote, â€śWe cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well â€” for we will not fight to save what we do not love.â€ť