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July 8, 2011

Reading, Writing and Composting

Joe Charlebois

Maryland is the first state in the union to require a formalized environmental curriculum for its pre-kindergarten through high school students. Although already a large part of the curriculum through many school districts, this move by the Maryland State Board of Education puts mandatory instruction of environmental issues on par with math and English.


How this is implemented is important. As sold to the public this addition to the curriculum is an extension of natural sciences. If it is maintained in such a manner, this program will be extremely successful in bringing awareness to how man’s interaction with his environment can be improved. A formalized incorporation of environmental studies is the right way to go. This program should be focused on the study of our ecosystem and get children out of the classroom and into local streams and forests.


As this may become a politically charged issue to some, it shouldn’t be. The official incorporation of this program into earth sciences will allow for observation by those who may be concerned with any possible political agenda, the ability to review materials and challenge any overtly political message conveyed to students.


I have fully encouraged my children to take an active role in the environmental studies program at their school as a real life immersion in earth sciences is critical to keeping our environment safe, clean and healthy. My children have enthusiastically participated in a volunteer lead group at their school called “Green Gators.” The program, which has enjoyed a high level of support by school officials, focused on horticulture, composting and the importance of recycling.


There will be those who may be concerned – and rightly so – that the Maryland State Board of Education’s recent move is one that seeks to encourage an ideological indoctrination of our children. If this is the case and if promoting a “green agenda” is first and foremost on the minds of our educators, they are no different than we are today; except that – if the curriculum is formalized – it will be that much easier for ideological watchdogs to review instruction materials.


A solid study of earth science and the ways to efficiently and proactively limit unwanted environmental decline is welcomed. It should be done with a balance and without opinion.


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