Al Gore congratulates NJ becoming first to teach climate change
New Jersey has become the first state in the nation to add climate change education to its learning standards for kindergarten through high school.
The state Board of Education adopted the plan to incorporate climate change lessons across seven content areas — science, social studies, technology, 21st Century Life and Careers, health and physical education, arts, and languages.
The initiative was first detailed in February by first lady Tammy Murphy, who is a charter member of former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Action Fund.
In a written statement, Gore congratulated the state.
“This initiative is vitally important to our students as they are the leaders of tomorrow, and we will depend on their leadership and knowledge to combat this crisis," he said.
Climate change standards also have been added to the appendices of the Mathematics and English Language Arts guidelines, which are up for review in 2022.
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards outline what is taught in the state's public schools and set the foundation for school districts to craft instruction.
As part of her efforts, Tammy Murphy has met over the past year with more than 130 educators who have been reviewing and revising the NJSLS, a process that occurs every five years.
“In New Jersey, we have already begun to experience the effects of climate change, from our disappearing shorelines, to harmful algal blooms in our lakes, super storms producing torrential rain, and summers that are blazing hot,” she said in a written statement Thursday.
"Decades of short-sighted decision-making has fueled this crisis and now we must do all we can to help our children solve it. This generation of students will feel the effects of climate change more than any other, and it is critical that every student is provided an opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens.”
Gov. Phil Murphy said the education standard "will strengthen the future of New Jersey’s green energy economy.”
The announcement of the additional learning standards comes as the entire state remains in remote learning mode, nearly three months since the pandemic first hit New Jersey.
In January, the governor released the state’s updated Energy Master Plan, which included strategies for making all of New Jersey's energy emissions-free within 30 years. He also signed an order requiring regulatory changes that were branded as Protecting Against Climate Threats – or PACT.
The governor said proposed development projects that don’t align with efforts to shift to a clean energy economy and respond to climate change will not be approved.
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