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Environmental and Sustainability Education Making Strides in Washington State

OLYMPIA — October 18, 2011 — Keeping students interested in and sustaining the environment is crucial to our future.

That was the message at a school assembly today at Seattle’s South Shore School. The assembly showcased three recent events: release of the Washington State Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Plan, receipt of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and Washington’s participation in the Green Ribbon Schools award program.

Environmental and sustainable education involves learning about the natural environment, society and the economy and how critical people’s actions are to the health of these.

At the assembly, Alan Burke, deputy superintendent of K-12 education for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, praised the effort that went into the plan. “The Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Plan will provide a road map of how we are going to make sure that students have the best possible opportunities to engage in the world around you and prepare you for jobs of the future,” he said.

The recently completed plan was developed by a committee of stakeholders led by OSPI in partnership with E3 Washington (Education, Environment, Economy). It is based on the E3 Washington plan and defines a 10-year vision that will increase students’ environmental and sustainability literacy and enhance their academic achievement.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a strong supporter of environmental and sustainability education and co-sponsor of the federal No Child Left Inside legislation said, “The Environmental and Sustainability Literacy Plan is another step toward protecting the natural resources that set our state apart. It is more important than ever that our young people know the stakes when it comes to the environment.

“By giving them the opportunity to increase their environmental literacy, we are making an investment in their lives, their economic well-being, and the planet they are inheriting.”

A $76,000 EPA grant will help implement key components of the plan and will be awarded at the event.

“This grant is exciting,” Burke said. “It gives school districts additional support to provide environmental and sustainability education from cradle to career.”

As part of the grant, OSPI will partner with the Pacific Science Center/Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) organization to embed environmental and sustainability concepts, as well as Native American reading curriculum, into elementary science materials. The grant also will support environmentally-related STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) early learning lessons.

Third, the grant will help OSPI, in partnership with E3 Washington and design firm McKinstry, enhance the existing online network to support the career and technical education Green Sustainable Design and Technology course for middle and high school students.

“Our state’s economy and the well-being of its people depend upon a healthy environment. Education plays a key role in ensuring this,” Burke said.

At the school assembly, it was also announced that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will participate in the pilot year of the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award program. This voluntary federal program rewards schools that “green” the curriculum and school grounds and support student and school health.

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About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032


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