Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

California schools incorporate environmental curriculum

by Julia Paskin | Take Two®

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Tina Jones, tests a water sample for nutrient levels as part of work in the Advanced Placement Environmental Science class at Godinez High School in Santa Ana, Calif. Susanica Tam for KPCC

After years of drought followed by overfilled dams, it feels like extreme weather is impacting our daily lives more and more.  

In many ways, California is a leader in environmental policy. Now, an initiative to develop a standard environmental curriculum for California schools is finally materializing in the classroom. 

For a deeper look into how environmental education is working its way into lesson plans across the state, Take Two's A Martinez spoke with Carolyn Jones. She's been writing about this for the online publication, EdSource.org.

"This is an effort statewide to get all kids in California, regardless of where they live, a really top-notch environmental education," said Jones.

California's goal is to encourage "environmental literacy." Jones defined that as "how humans impact the natural world and our own immediate environments. "That's everything from little kids learning to pick up trash, save water, and recycle, all the way up to 12th graders learning about the economics of global agriculture."

Interview Highlight

Kids will be getting environmental education not just in their science curriculum but also in their history curriculum, and social science, and English and math as well. They'll be getting it many different ways, all the way through the pipeline.

It's kind of built-in naturally with what they would be learning anyway in the classroom. For example, 4th graders in California all learn about the missions and the Gold Rush. So now, when they learn about the missions, they're also going to learn about bringing agriculture to California and what impact that's had. And how the Spanish didn't just bring missions, they brought invasive plants and the impact of that. And when they look at the Gold Rush, they're going to look at the impact of gold extraction. What happens when you put a bunch of silt in a river for example. And also what happens when you get these very rapidly growing new cities all of the sudden. In 12th grade, they'll be looking at economic issues, environmental justice, and public health and so forth. 

Quotes edited for clarity 

To hear the full interview, click on the blue Media Player above.

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