by Daanyal Raja
New Jersey has become the first state to require schools to incorporate climate change into their curricula. The state’s Board of Education adopted new guidelines which requires climate change to be taught throughout all K-12 schools. The initiative to integrate climate change into student learning was led by the state’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, who met with over 130 educators within the past year. First Lady Murphy strongly advocated for this change because New Jersey has become a state at the forefront of climate change. “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,” the First Lady told The Planetary Press. “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.”
The new guidelines will be implemented into the school curriculum by September 2021. They will be taught to over 1.4 million students and vary across seven different subject areas: Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, World Languages, 21st Century Life and Careers, Science, and Comprehensive Health and Physical Education.
When asked about New Jersey’s recent curriculum changes, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said, “I am incredibly proud that [they are] the first state in the nation to fully integrate climate education in their K-12 curricula.” Gore then stated that the leaders of tomorrow should be educated on climate change in order to equip them with needed knowledge that can be used to combat it and implement solutions. In this venture, New Jersey joins a small group of countries that have had mandated environmental education in place for several years. Tracey Ritchie, Director of Education at Earth Day Network, reports that India, Kenya, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Tanzania, China, and Finland all have courses about the issue in their classrooms.