The NY Times featured environmental charter schools today. The article begins with several initially reluctant students in the program describing how they were suprised to discover that Environmentalism has a much broader scope than they originally thought. The charter schools and some public schools are not merely greenwashing their curricula. Younger students learn about the importance of recycling, and conservation of resources and animals. Older students, however, are exposed to topics as diverse as LEED building management, alternative energy technology, environmental engineering, policy, and environmental justice.
“At the more civic-oriented Green School in Brooklyn, teachers send the students out into their neighborhoods to record public service announcements and videos about smoking and air pollution. They also walk the streets to map trees and trash cans, then incorporate their findings into mural sketches for geometry class.”
That last project seems particularly apt for introducing GIS technology into schools. The stated goal of preparing students for the expanding environmental job market is particularly well timed. By empowering students of diverse backgrounds and interests with an awareness to confront environmental issues in their neighborhoods, the schools could also be creating new environmental activists and leaders.
“The students are encouraged to delve into local issues that may affect them and their families, like contamination in waterways like the Gowanus Canal, water quality or the razing of low-scale housing.”
Let’s hope a new generation of environmentalists will continue the work of organizations like NY’s Riverkeeper advocacy group, currently filing suit against Gowanus Canal polluters.
Carl Kunda, VERTICES intern