Creating a supportive context for environmental literacy in California ensures that these efforts result in high-quality learning experiences for all students that will be sustained over many years. Fostering a supportive context for environmental literacy is key to leveraging existing state education policies, and encouraging new policies that support teachers, students, and healthy communities. Together with our partners, we are actively engaged in strengthening the system and building connections.
SB 720 was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on September 13, 2018. The bill was authored by Senator Ben Allen, co-authored by Assembly Member Tony Thurmond, and sponsored by Ten Strands. SB 720 strengthens California’s commitment to providing all public school students with the opportunity to become environmentally literate citizens prepared to lead our state into the future. Specifically, the bill:
- Directs the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction, district superintendents, and their school boards to support environmental literacy
- Codifies California’s adopted Environmental Principles & Concepts (EP&Cs) in Education Code as the state’s definition of environmental literacy
- Moves core ideas from the Blueprint for Environmental Literacy into Education Code
- Articulates a process in Public Resources Code for revising the EP&Cs, if appropriate, based on current scientific and technical knowledge
In 2017, Ten Strands worked with Senator Ben Allen to sponsor SB 424, resulting in $4 million of state Budget Act money to support:
- California teacher demand for the Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum materials
- The California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network, which brings community providers of environmental education together with teachers and administrators to provide students with hands-on, outdoor, environment-based experiences
Environmental Principles & Concepts
State Board of Education approval of California’s Environmental Principles & Concepts (EP&Cs) in 2004, and the requirement that they be included in all state-approved K–8 science and history–social science core instructional materials, expresses a significant commitment by the state to environmental literacy.
SB 720 also ensures inclusion of the EP&Cs in new curriculum frameworks, as has already happened in the Science, History–Social Science, Health, and Arts Frameworks, which will provide guidance to educators on how to integrate environmental literacy into these and other core subjects. Educators now have clear guidelines regarding how the EP&Cs support teaching. Exemplars and vignettes detail how the EP&Cs support student learning, and detailed charts are available that describe connections between the EP&Cs and specific academic content standards.
Conferences and Success Stories
Ten Strands and our partners share environmental literacy success stories at over 20 professional conferences and workshops annually, including: the California Association of Science Educators, the National Green Schools Conference, the California STEAM Symposium, ACSA Superintendents’ Symposium, California Council for the Social Studies, Bioneers, North American Association of Environmental Educators, and most recently the Environmental and Climate Change Literacy Project and Summit (ECCLPS).