Environmental Education Moving to Head of Class

Article excerpt

Byline: Dennis Paige

Popular with students and teachers, environmental education is now on the rise across the United States and the rest of the planet.

Though most states have introduced components to train teachers and provide them with the material and administrative support, very few states have taken steps to strengthen comprehensive environmental education in their K-12 school systems.

Only two states, Arizona and Wisconsin, have comprehensive EE programs that include K-12 curriculum planning requirements, environmental literacy assessments for teachers and students, an EE state board, teacher certification requirement, adequate ongoing state funding resources and non-governmental support associations to increase environmental literacy within the state.

Illinois does not have such comprehensive EE yet. But if a group called the Illinois Environmental Education Advocacy Consortium had it their way, our tall-grass prairie state would proudly proclaim to be No. 3.

In December 1993, Illinois was selected as one of five states awarded a Demonstration States Grant to assess and modify current state environmental policy. Grants were received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These were administered by the National Environmental Education Advocacy Project at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The IEEAC accepted this grant as representatives of the state of Illinois.

The IEEAC is an informal joint venture of environmental educators, administrators and employees of state agencies and members of non-governmental organizations. …