Maryland becomes first state with environmental literacy requirement

Professional development will help “train the teachers in how to take and use the local environment as a classroom for reaching the learning objectives and ultimately give the students a rewarding and engaging experience,” Baugh said. “Research shows it will help the students achieve better in all subject areas as well as prepare them for the 21st century, in particular green jobs and environmental stewardship.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who called the bill “a defining moment for education in Maryland,” said the new environmental literacy mandate will not require any additional funding or staff, but it might allow Maryland to receive federal funding for green instruction if the federal No Child Left Inside legislation passes.

Sponsored by Maryland representative John Sarbanes, the federal bill would authorize funding to help teach students about environmental literacy, healthy living, and sound nutrition. Critics of the bill say it’s intended to spread a political agenda to children; Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., has been quoted as saying: “The federal government should not be imposing special interest-driven doctrine through educational policy, and we’ll fight to ensure that doesn’t happen with this or any other bill.”

Hedges said Maryland has had some form of environmental literacy legislation since 1990.

“Getting the regulation passed was easy. The hard part now is implementing this in school systems,” he said.

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