Strengthening partnerships and strategies that will bring environmental literacy
to all of California’s 5.8 million TK–12 public school students.
Advocacy is one of Ten Strands’ three strategic pillars, where we are working at the state level to meet the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for environmental justice by catalyzing change through an innovative whole school systems approach. Our current advocacy includes the following initiatives that advance our mission to increase environmental literacy throughout the system of TK–12 public education in California.
TK–12 Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program
WHAT: Ten Strands is partnering with the San Mateo County Office of Education and the California Department of Education to arrange for the creation of TK–12 open education resources focused on climate change and environmental justice.
BUDGET REQUEST: We worked with Senator Ben Allen to request an additional $10 million to build upon and leverage the initial investment in curricular resource development. We have a vision of developing statewide professional learning centered around these new curricula and, at the same time, building support for the widespread implementation of the materials.
Read Senator Ben Allen’s budget request letter here.
Learn more about the Climate Change and Environmental Justice Program here.
STATUS: Although we were not successful at securing the $10 million appropriation, we were able to build a strong coalition of over 250 supporters. We are now actively continuing conversations with Senator Allen and the San Mateo County Office of Education in preparation of the next budget cycle.
GOALS FOR THE BUDGET REQUEST:
- Widespread implementation of the curricular resources.
- Multiple venues of professional learning for teachers and educational leaders.
- Mechanisms for productively adapting, augmenting, and sharing the curricula.
- Connecting teachers and students to community-based partners.
PAST WIN: In July 2021, Ten Strands worked with Senator Ben Allen to secure $6 million to develop K–12 climate and environmental justice curriculum units, making California the first state to publicly finance the creation of such units.
Read our statement on Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2023-24 May Revise here.
Read our press release on the $6 million investment here.
Climate Ready Schools Coalition and Master Plan
WHAT: Ten Strands is partnering with UndauntedK12, the Center for Cities and Schools at UC Berkeley, and others to focus on initiatives that center on decarbonizing every school building to ensure school buildings and grounds are climate-resilient to support student health, safety, learning, and development in a time of rapidly increasing extreme weather. We are also co-sponsoring Senate Bill (SB) 394, which would require the creation of a master plan for healthy, sustainable, and climate-resilient California schools.
STATUS: SB 394 passed unanimously out of the Senate (39-0) in May and passed unanimously out of both Assembly Natural Resources and Education policy committees in June. On September 1, the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted SB 394 off of the suspense file, and it passed fully off of the Assembly floor. It passed in the Senate with a concurrent vote (39-0) and is now headed to the governor’s desk.
BUDGET REQUEST: We requested $10 million in one-time funding to develop a California Master Plan for Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Schools to coordinate state, county, and local actions and ensure that ongoing state investments in school infrastructure are cost-effective and aligned with the state’s decarbonization targets and with its commitments to children’s health and educational equity.
If you’re an educator, you can take action by signing this petition urging Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblymember Chris Holden to support SB 394!
Learn more about the Climate Ready Schools Coalition here.
Watch our Virtual Policy Forum on Climate-Resilient California Schools here.
Read our joint-statement with the Climate Ready Schools Coalition on Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2023-24 Budget Proposal here.
GOAL: The advancement of sustainable, climate-resilient schools that will ease pressure on the power grid and limit shutdowns that disrupt instruction and produce learning loss, resulting in improved children’s mental and physical health, rebounding state test scores, and cost savings that can be cycled back into classrooms.
Additional Legislation We’re Supporting:
AB 285: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Climate Change Education
AB 285 would require the science area of study to include an emphasis on the causes and effects of climate change and methods to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We’re asking the legislature to take it a step further by making climate change education a priority across multiple disciplines in all of California’s public schools. We’re asking that the bill be revised to:
- integrate content related to climate change into all areas of study, including English, mathematics, history-social science, science, visual and performing arts, health, world languages, applied arts, physical education, and career technical education, and
- specify that coursework includes material on the causes and effects of climate change and methods to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
STATUS: AB 285 passed out of the Senate and is now headed to the governor’s desk.
SB 499: School Extreme Heat Action Plan Act of 2023
The School Extreme Heat Action Plan Act will require school campuses to replace surfaces that radiate dangerous levels of heat, such as cement, asphalt, brick, pebbles, sand, aggregates, rubber, and synthetic turf with surfaces that do not, such as cool pavement technologies, natural grass, shrubs, trees, wood chips, or other natural systems that mitigate heat and pollution.
STATUS: On September 1, SB 499 was held in committee and under submission.
Read our support letter here.
S-1538: Living Schoolyards Act of 2023
The Living Schoolyards Act will direct important federal resources toward transforming school grounds into living schoolyards—richly layered outdoor environments that strengthen local ecological systems while providing place-based, hands-on learning resources for students of all ages.
STATUS: On May 10, the Living Schoolyards Act of 2023 was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Learn more here and check out how to get involved.
California Youth Climate Policy (CYCP) Leadership Program
The California Youth Climate Policy (CYCP) Leadership Program is a new statewide youth program designed to empower high school students to enact real change in their school or district.
Sponsored by the Sierra Club, Ten Strands, and UndauntedK12, the CYCP Leadership Program is inspired in part by the student leaders who helped to pass climate literacy resolutions in Oakland, Fremont, Berkeley, and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. The CYCP Leadership Program will give students the structure and resources they need to develop a plan of action. Students will also receive mentoring from adult coaches and support in developing a personal leadership plan. Learn more here.
Header: Hannah Arista
Photo 1: Kerry James
Photo 2: Hussain Badshah
Photo 3: Fabrice Florin from Mill Valley, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons