Polluting our children in the name of “environmental literacy.”
“Back to school” may soon mean something more like “back to political education camp” if liberal regulators have their way.
If your child is looking to get a high school diploma in Maryland, reading, writing, and arithmetic may no longer be enough. Students may soon have to be able to “[e]xplain that differences in the behavior of individuals arise from the interaction of culture and experience” in order to graduate.
Despite it sounding more like the stuff of sociology than hard environmental science, that line is taken from a draft of the state’s new “Environmental Literacy Curriculum.” The draft, according to William Reinhard of the Maryland State Department of Education, is meant to “help guide local [school] systems as they develop their own plans” to integrate environmental literacy into their curricula.
And this isn’t just some far-flung proposal destined to fail when put to a vote. Maryland’s Board of Education recently adopted a requirement mandating that high schools “embed broad environmental literacy standards into the pre-existing curriculum,” in Reinhard’s words.
In fact, not only did the board adopt it, but the vote was unanimous. And the bill — whose allies include the Audubon Society, Gov. Martin O’Malley, and former state school superintendent Nancy Grasmick — makes Maryland the first state to require “environmental literacy” for high school graduation.
According to Reinhard, the new regulation says each high school must include an “environmental literacy” program in its graduation requirements. While these programs are supposed to encourage students to “maintain optimal relationships” with the environment and preserve Maryland’s natural resources, “environmental literacy” itself is not very strictly defined, and — as shown by the curriculum excerpt above — its parameters may extend far beyond traditional environmental issues.
Although Reinhard stressed that the programs are locally designed by individual school systems, there is evidence that some supporters of the new rule hope it will set a precedent for national policy. For instance, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), who thanked the board for passing its environmental literacy measure, also introduced the No Child Left Inside Act in the U.S. House. It would create a federal grant program for environmental literacy education.
And the Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition, which announced it was “thrilled” with the board’s decision, is working to add environmental literacy provisions to the No Child Left Behind Act when it is reauthorized this year.
Although locally designed, each of the state’s environmental literacy programs must be approved by the state superintendent, who will evaluate it based on a set of standards, including whether it ensures that students “understand and value the interdependence between the environment and our health, economy, and culture” and that they “develop and apply knowledge and skills at the community level for cooperative action to protect and sustain the environment.”
Reinhard also claims that “the new regulation received broad support from both the [school] systems themselves and the general public.”
But it certainly has its critics.
J.B. Jennings, a Maryland State Senator and former member of the State House of Delegates Environmental Matters Committee, is one of them. He appeared on Fox News to discuss the implications of the environmental literacy requirement. Jennings worries that the new standards are just an excuse for liberal educators to indoctrinate their students, that they are simply another opportunity for public schools to teach impressionable children to adopt certain political views.
“What kind of education is it going to be?” Jennings asked. “Is it going to be fact-based? Or is it going to be theory-based, which is usually politically, theory driven?”
The above-mentioned curriculum draft doesn’t exactly dispel Jennings’ fears. One of its provisions even states that students shall “explain how groups and individuals can work to promote and balance interests through: Government policies…”
So the new guide for Maryland high schools suggests tax dollars should pay for teachers to tell kids how the government can solve their problems.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online