Friday, June 4, 2021

Board Of Education Posts Education Standards Eliminating Environment, Ecology & Agriculture K-12 Academic Standards For Comment; Environmental Educators Oppose

The state Board of Education published
notice in the June 5 PA Bulletin asking for comment on proposed education standards that eliminate the current Environment, Ecology and Agriculture Education Standards in K-12 education.

Call To Action

The PA Association of Environmental Education issued a call to educators across Pennsylvania in January to help restore the Environment, Ecology and Agriculture Education Standards so they apply across K-12 education.

Last September, the Department of Education released new proposed academic standards for science that do not explicitly include Environment, Ecology and Agriculture standards.

The existing Environment and Ecology standards were separate and distinct and applied to all educational disciplines.

The Association said, “These three topics [Environment, Ecology and Agriculture] are critical to ensure that Pennsylvania students are informed citizens and are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century economy.

“In these times of global climate crisis and national uncertainty regarding the environment, it is urgent that we as educators of current and future generations of national and global citizens take action to ensure that our students young and old, in formal and non-formal settings, are prepared for what lies ahead.”

DCNR’s Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council met last September to hear an overview of the proposed changes to the standards.  Read more here.

Jean Devlin, a Natural Resource Program Specialist for DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry, told the Council, "(I)f something is a mandated standard it will be assessed, and therefore it will be taught. So if there is a subject matter that is not mandated it probably is not going to be assessed, and chances are very unlikely it will be taught.”

The standards are also used to design curriculum materials for students and help guide what educators are taught to teach.

Devlin said the state’s existing Environment and Ecology Standards were formally adopted in 2002 and made “...Pennsylvania a leader in education.  We have become the best practice that other States look to to have separate standards for environment and ecology.”

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn told the Council having good, solid Environment, Ecology and Agriculture standards are critical for many things, but in particular for educating agriculture, forestry and conservation professionals.

“We depend on the students of today learning science environment, ecology, environmental civics, getting involved and real hands-on practices in agriculture and forestry and recreation and management,” said Dunn. “The bulk of DCNRs work is more in environment [and] ecology, also important aspects of agriculture, integrated pest management, managing the landscape, whether it's forestry or agriculture and ecological work.”

She pointed out these students become not only agriculture, forestry, recreation and environment and ecology professionals, they become the good stewards of Pennsylvania’s resources and environment in the future.”

[Note: The Environment and Ecology Standards were part of a broader initiative by the Ridge and Schweiker Administrations to deepen and coordinate environmental education efforts for students and people of all ages.

[It included creating an interagency, interdisciplinary PA Center for Environmental Education based at Slippery Rock University created by Gov. Ridge through an Executive Order in 1996 and then in law by Act 71 of 2008.  Funding for the Center was eliminated in 2011.

[Some of the functions of the Center were later picked up by the PA Association of Environmental Educators.]


Questions on this PAEE initiative should be directed to Jessica Kester, President of PAEE, by sending email to:

Public comments are due by July 5.  Comments are to be sent to Karen Molchanow, Executive Director, State Board of Education, 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126 or by email to:

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information.

Related Articles:

-- DCNR: Having Strong Environment & Ecology Education Standards Critical To Developing Career Opportunities & Good Stewards Of PA’s Environment, Natural Resources

-- Guest Essay: Why Environmental Literacy Should Be Part Of Pennsylvania’s Education Standards - Anna R. Pauletta, PA Student Member, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Board Of Trustees

[Posted: June 4, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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