Thursday, March 22, 2012

Department of Education Issues Draft Environmental Literacy Plan

Environmental educators and others with an interest in formal and non-formal education are being invited by the Department of Education's Environmental and Ecology Education program to comment on a draft PA Environmental Literacy Plan designed to move environmental education forward for the next 10 years.
            Comments are due by April 13.    
            The draft was developed by the Pennsylvania Advisory Council under the guidance of the Department of Education.  This plan correlates directly with the goals, outcomes and strategies for the newly developed Mid-Atlantic Elementary and Secondary Environmental Literacy Plan.
            The Pennsylvania literacy plan looks at eight areas of importance for both formal and non-formal educators in the area of environmental education.  These areas are:
A. School System (state regulations and laws pertaining to formal education)
B. Life Long Learners (Meaningful Learners and Civic Engagement)
C. Sustainable Practices, Healthy Living and the Environment
D. Funding and Implementation
E. Partnerships
F. Early Childhood Education
G. Pre-Service Education 
H. Professional Development (formal and non-formal)
            For each of the eight areas of the Pennsylvania Literacy Plan recommendations, action steps and main responsible parties have been developed.  Each recommendation addressed a very specific topic and then steps to meet the recommendations focused on 2 both formal and non-formal education. 
            Multiple partners are identified in each area who the council felt would hold the primary responsibility to ensure that actions would be taken to meet the recommendations. These partners are at the regional, state and federal levels.
            There are four goals for the plan and its recommendations:
-- Goal 1: Every student in the region graduates with the knowledge and skills to make informed environmental decisions.
-- Goal 2: All educators in the region responsible for instruction about or in the environment have access to sustained professional development opportunities, tools, and resources that support their efforts to provide students with high-quality environmental education.
-- Goal 3:  Every school in the region maintains its buildings, grounds, and operations to support positive environmental and human health outcomes.
-- Goal 4: The education community in the region functions in a unified manner and coordinates with key national, regional, and stat programs to represent the full suite of information and opportunities available for PK-12 audiences.
            Comments and suggestions on the plan and its recommendations should be directed to Patti Vathis by sending email to:
            History of EE in PA
            Pennsylvania was a pioneer in environmental education.
            In 1984 Pennsylvania developed the state's first Environmental Education Master Plan developed by Department of Environmental Resources Secretary Nicholas DeBenedictis and Education Secretary Dr. Margaret Smith under Gov. Dick Thornburgh.
            In 1993 the General Assembly passed and Gov. Bob Casey signed into law the PA Environmental Education Act (Act 24) earmarking five percent of the fines and penalties collected by the Department of Environmental Protection to fund local and state environmental education efforts.
            In 1996 Gov. Tom Ridge, by executive order, created the PA Center for Environmental Education to help coordinate environmental education efforts in the Commonwealth. The Center was governed by a board members from relevant state agencies, the PA Association of Environmental Educators and county conservation districts.
            The Commonwealth was the first state in the country to approve specific, state academic standards for Environment and Ecology education in 2002 under Gov. Mark Schweiker.  The standards require students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 to show proficiency in basic environmental concepts like they do math, science and reading.
            In 2008 the General Assembly passed and Gov. Ed Rendell signed Act 71 creating the Center in law with an expanded board as an organization under the State System of Higher Education and Slippery Rock University.
            In 2011 the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Corbett zeroed out the budget for the Center and it was disbanded.  The online resources developed under the Center are now housed, in part, on the PA Association of Environmental Educators website.

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner