Southern California environment news and trends

California updates environmental curriculum over plastic bag chapter

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A pile of plastic bags await recycling.

The current war being waged regarding single-use plastic bags goes beyond just how customers tote their wares out of restaurants and retail stores. It was discovered last year that the American Chemical Council had successfully lobbied California school officials to include positive messages about such plastic bags in the state’s environmental curriculum.

As reported by California Watch, the California Environmental Protection Agency has been allowed to rewrite the curriculum, which no longer includes a section entitled “The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags” and has been updated with current recycling statistics.

"Our concern always with the curriculum was to ensure integrity and accuracy," explained Bryan Ehlers, the California EPA’s assistant secretary for education and quality programs to California Watch. "We went back and looked at the whole unit and really picked through it with a fine-tooth comb."

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California schools vie for national green awards

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Four California schools (including two from Manhattan Beach) have been nominated for the new federal Green Ribbon Schools Program.

Grand View Elementary and Environmental Charter High are the Manhattan Beach representatives; private Danville institution the Athenian and Longfellow Elementary in Long Beach round out the four California finalists chosen by Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The U.S. Department of Education rolled out this new program last September after collaborating with various state agencies. The award criteria is to “focus on measurable outcomes wherever possible, and based on a comprehensive approach incorporating environmental learning with maximizing positive environmental and health impacts,” according to a department press release.

"Our state has always been a leader in environmental protection, and these four schools are proof positive that California's schools are still leading the way," Torlakson said in the release. "As a science teacher, it is heartening to see how these schools are weaving sound environmental practices into the lessons in their classrooms and the daily life of their campuses.”

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