Climate Change Education

New Jersey Becomes First State to Include Climate Change in Curriculum

New Jersey public schools will become the first in the nation to incorporate climate change education into the K-12 curriculum. The 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards were adopted on June 3.

The new standards will allow students to not only understand what climate change is, but also to explore necessary solutions. By implementing climate change education, the administration and the New Jersey Department of Education hope to prepare future leaders to tackle the climate change crisis. Former President Al Gore applauded the curriculum, saying, “This initiative is vitally important to our students as they are the leaders of tomorrow, and we will depend on their leadership and knowledge to combat this crisis.”

The curriculum is designed to be broadly implemented across seven core subject areas: Career Readiness, Life Literacies, and Key Skills; Comprehensive Health and Physical Education; Science; Social Studies; Technology; Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages. Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics are not set to be under review until 2021.

First Lady Tammy Murphy helped lead the charge for the new standards, alongside 130 educators and representatives from various fields. Murphy said, “The adoption of these standards is much more than an added educational requirement; it is a symbol of a partnership between generations.” Knowing that climate change will increasingly affect younger generations, Murphy believes the new education standards will properly prepare tomorrow’s leaders of the climate change crisis.

Governor Phil Murphy hopes these new education standards will help New Jersey solidify its standing as a role model and leader for the discussion surrounding climate change in the United States. The announcement of the climate change curriculum comes a few months after the governor’s Energy Master Plan unveiling in January. The plan outlines strategies to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2050. “The adoption of these standards across our K-12 schools is an important step forward that will strengthen the future of New Jersey’s green energy economy,” said the governor.

The curriculum is set to be incorporated beginning September 2021 in four of the subject areas, with the other three being implemented in September 2022.

Sources: Patch 6/3/20; NJ.com 6/3/20; North Jersey 6/3/20, NJ.gov 1/27/20