Why aren’t Californian schools involved in the Green Ribbon Schools program?
May 04, 2011

Last week, the Department of Education unveiled a new Green Ribbon Schools program.  The program, if I understand the literature, is basically designed to encourage schools to become more sustainable, more involved in child health, and more focused on shaping environmentally-conscious citizens.

This is the sort of idea that is right up my alley, and I was all set to applaud it, but then I realized that only one school in California is involved at all.  And that lead me to the realization that this is essentially a Texan program - something that Texan community members (educators, pediatricians, sustainability geeks, parents, etc.) came together on and Californian community members did not.  Which just…I mean…wow.

The truth is that I have no idea how to fix the education system.  I can spout off ideas - organic vegetable gardens in every school!  classes sometimes held outdoors!  lots of physical activities!  lawsuits pretty much unwelcome and don’t even get me started on this one!  lots of hands-on science and nature studies!  parents who are actually involved!  healthy unprocessed foods served at meals!  elimination of standardized tests!  progressive grading scales! - but at the end of the day, it’s really just talk.  I’m not an educator and I don’t have a child in the public school system, so my understanding of the problems within our academic system and their potential solutions is very limited.

I just can’t shake the feeling, though, that programs like the Green Ribbon Schools initiative are pointing in the right direction.  And if that’s the case, isn’t it time that California jumped on board?  Shouldn’t all states be encouraging sustainability, child health, and environmental awareness and responsibility?  Shouldn’t our schools emphasize physical activity, natural play, eco-conscious decision-making, energy independence, and the like?

I think so.


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  1. By on May 04, 2011

    My guess is that CA schools have their own programs. Like this one: http://www.greenschools.net/

  2. By on May 04, 2011

    Here’s the program for my state: http://www.kansasgreenschools.org/

  3. By Sarah Christensen on May 04, 2011

    OH!  Okay, thanks Jessica!  That makes more sense.  Although, isn’t it odd that I heard about the Texas program through the grapevine but have never once heard of the California one?  I didn’t hear about it in the news or anything - I heard about it from teacher friends who were jealous.

    I hope over the next few years we see these sorts of programs become mainstream in our schools’ focus and curriculums.

  4. By Stephanie on May 04, 2011

    This has nothing to do with what you just posted except for me to say, all this time I’ve been reading your blog I thought you were in Florida. I just assumed from all the sunshine and fruit that you were there.
    And now you’re in California (which, of course, you’ve been in, but I just figured it out). My mind is all tumbled up now! :)

  5. By on May 04, 2011

    Stephanie - It’s okay, I get that alot =)  It’s the orange trees.  Florida thought they had a monopoly, but HA!  THEY HAVEN’T SEEN MY YARD!

    I’m in the LA County/Orange County area in southern California, at any rate.  I suspect that in photographs our Orange County and Florida’s Orange County don’t look all too different.  Orange trees, sunshine, it’s a wash!

  6. By on May 04, 2011

    I could go on for probably days about the issues with the education system in California.  The emphasis on standardized tests is horrible.  We no longer can teach good math - they have to learn the test.  It’s so limiting and discouraging and the kids have no motivation whatsoever.  Lack of student motivation is already an issue for us, and the demands placed on us certainly don’t help.  Add to that the fact that people want to judge teachers based on test scores.  Err??

  7. By on May 27, 2011

    There are a few teachers in the science department that want to start a garden here at school.  We have already been scouring the school for good areas to build a raised planter.  Seriously, plants would tie into all of 7th grade science so beautifully!!!  And then our students would see that carrots and tomatoes don’t grow at the grocery store.  They grow in the ground.  Outside. In the sunshine.  It would give them a whole new perspective on life!

    As for the whole sustainability and green movement, I have a HUGE recycling box in my room.  And now I have students saving plastic bottles from lunch and recycling them in my room.  And my recycle bin is more full than the trashcan ever is!  The kids get it and are totally into being green, we just need to incorporate it more in our classrooms.  If Cali isn’t going to implement the greeness officially, then teachers, like my fellow teachers here at Nimitz, are just going to have to continue to do it on our own!!!


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