Maryland becomes first state with environmental literacy requirement

By Jenna Zwang, Assistant Editor
August 3rd, 2011

Forty other states are planning environmental literacy initiatives, according to a Maryland state official.

Maryland has become the first state to mandate an environmental literacy requirement for all graduating students.

A new policy adopted by the state board of education requires public schools to work lessons about conservation, sustainable growth, and studies about the natural world into a variety of subjects.

“The language in the bylaw says that the environmental education has to be in place preK-12 and has to be multidisciplinary and reside within current curriculum offerings,” said Gary Hedges, the science specialist with the Maryland state board of education. “It’s infused into science, social studies, health, fine arts—the new Common Core mathematics and language arts [standards] even have connections to environmental literacy.”

The requirement will go into effect for ninth graders entering high school for the 2011-12 school year, but it later will be applied to all students in grades preK-12.

Don Baugh, head of the No Child Left Inside Coalition, said that teachers who already are rewriting curriculum to align with Common Core goals simply will incorporate environmental content.