Dept of Education Introduces Environmental Literacy Program

The United States Dept of Education is jumping on the green bandwagon by introducing an environmental literacy strategy, the Green Ribbon Schools program. Still in its launching phase, this program will be modeled after the Dept of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools program, which annually recognizes schools for high academic performance or academic improvements leading to higher performing students.

All of the specifics of the environmental literacy agenda have not yet been developed, but according to the criteria for the Blue Ribbon Schools program, the school does a self-evaluation where teachers, parents, students and the community assess the school in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and in turn make a plan for future developments. The school then uses this information to apply for the program. A panel picks promising applicants and visits them in order to decide which schools will be recognized for the program.

The first Green Ribbon Schools will be recognized in just under a year on Earth Day 2012. According to the Dept of Education press release from Tuesday April 26th, the Green Ribbon Schools program will recognize schools for things such as “energy conservation, creating healthy learning spaces, and teaching environmental literacy.”

Currently the Dept of Education seems to be playing the Green Ribbon Schools program off as not only a great means of spreading environmental literacy, but also a way for schools struggling with funds to get more money and save money in the future. The main problem is that start-up costs for greener energy solutions are typically quite expensive. Many schools that are currently struggling for money may be kept from even applying for the program as they lack the means to begin implementing these greener solutions. Only time will tell as the Dept of Education’s environmental literacy program starts up.

The Green Ribbon Schools program can be used to not only decrease energy consumption and in turn save money, but also to use these initiatives to teach students environmental literacy. Former Dept of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “through the Green Ribbon Schools program, we’ll be holding up schools that are leading the way in teaching science and in ways that show students the importance of developing clean energy sources and sustainable solutions for the environment.” Hopefully the Dept of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program will also be used as an initiative for students to be creative in helping to develop future green solutions.

Visit the Green Ribbon Schools Organization Website for more information on Dept of Education’s new environmental literacy program.

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