"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Global Warming? Sorry, It's Not on the Test

At a time when the future of half the animal species on Earth hangs by a thread and the future of humanity, itself, is precariously balanced, can it be that we will let our educational mission be diverted by a handful of paid for politicians who continue to blame the schools for their own failure to act on issues outside the schools, and thus sink the next generation deeper in the ignorance they are suffocating from now?

Is there anything but a lack of moral courage to keep us from doing the work that is required?

And if the schools offer only to hold our children prisoner while Mother Earth melts, then it is time to empty the schools, rescue our children, and reclaim our future.

A little reminder of the situation from the Houston Chronicle:

AUSTIN — At a time of heightened concern over global warming and depleting ocean life, U.S. schoolchildren are not being taught some of the most basic environmental lessons, experts say.

While students are doing better at math and reading, watchdogs and teachers say the overwhelming focus on those core academic areas has left them surprisingly unaware of their own surroundings.

As Congress grapples to rewrite the six-year-old No Child Left Behind law, the science gap has become part of the debate.

"Young people are graduating from high school totally environmentally illiterate," said Brian A. Day, executive director of the North American Association for Environmental Education. "They neither know nor know how to find out how to address challenges, whether with lifestyle changes or public policy issues."

A recent study titled "Environmental Literacy in America" reports that as states focus more on standards and accountability testing, the amount of environmental education being taught in schools has "leveled off and may even be in decline for the first time in three decades."

The decline couldn't come at a worse time, critics say.

"We're at a time where, because of things like climate change — with more and more evidence that the climate is changing — all these issues are becoming increasingly acute, so we need to engage young people in addressing these issues, so we need to educate young people," said Delicia Reynolds, legislative counsel for U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., a sponsor of environmental education legislation in Congress known as No Child Left Inside. . . .

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