Environmental Education Standards for Wisconsin Public Schools sign now

Our collective objective is to cause the implementation of compulsory study of environmentalism from kindergarten through twelfth grade in Wisconsin public schools. We wish to make a case that environmentalism be added to the core curriculum either as a class that is separate from others in the same manner of mathematics, science, social studies and physical education or be integrated coherently into the teaching of all disciplines. The key component of either option would be that there would exist no disparity of quality and knowledge imparted among different schools. We believe that such instruction be mandatory with specific standards to be met in accordance to grade level. Priority should be given to sensitizing children to environmental issues such as global warming, endangered species, alternative energy, energy conservation, sustainability, recycling, and habitat conservation.
We are of the conviction that, in order for environmental issues to be taken seriously by mainstream society, there must be a great deal of effort put forth in inculcating in children's minds the responsibility that they bear towards the planet. As it stands currently, these topics seem to hold a minor and peripheral importance and have what appears to be an optional and supererogatory place in our society. The current school standards lack specificity and compliance is largely voluntary. The social dynamic that surrounds issues related to global warming seem to be perceived by the general public as being a fringe element of society. We believe that there is a tendency to view those who attempt to incorporate elements of sustainability into their quotidian existence as being part of some variety of a new age phenomena and those who attempt to bring these practices to the realm of public policy as being proponents of a radical, left-wing, agenda.
We believe that the greatest resource we have in dealing with this global emergency on a long-term basis is in education. It is necessary that children be instilled with a certain type of ethos that is continually reinforced throughout their academic careers. Only in so doing, will we gain the social momentum necessary to bring certain values into mainstream consciousness. We can only hope that, along the way, the children can exert the same degree of social pressure on their parents that they seem capable of doing with regards to fast food, clothes, video games, cell phones, and other commodities that the media has prescribed as being essential. This phenomena is known as "pester power" and is an effective advertising strategy utilized by both the toy and fast food industry. We see no reason why a similar approach would not be equally effective in the realm of environmentalism especially considering the moral pressure involved in these issues.
In light of the overwhelming evidence regarding the role of humans in the deterioration of the environment and the severity of the problem, we can no longer afford to be timid in our measures. What is required is a mobilization of our society of comparable dimensions to that which occurred during World War Two. The environmentalist perspective can no longer be considered an optional pastime or eccentricity. It is essential for the survival of humanity and our fellow planetary inhabitants that this view cease to be a question of political and or philosophical ideology and simply be accepted as practical necessity. We furthermore believe that due to the life-changing natures of the revelations stemming from this course of study, it is absolutely essential that we begin at the youngest possible age to instruct and sensitize. It is well understood how difficult it is for adults to dramatically alter consumption habits that have characterized their entire lives and that have been permitted and even sanctioned by mainstream society. As it stands, it is still far too easy to ignore environmental concerns without any significant risks of ostracism. There are still far too many social options available to the non-concerned, which weaken the impetus on a personal level to effect behavior modification in the common individual. Habit is one of the most awesomely powerful psychological mechanisms. It is common to humans to adhere to it despite the misery it may cause. We gravitate towards the familiar almost as a rule. The most effective tool for social change is in establishing certain habits (which will prove essential for our collective survival) at a very young age so that the environmental perspective becomes, for the average citizen, that comfortable familiar towards which we tend.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this topic, there are different options regarding how it might be integrated into the curriculum. It could be taught as a separate course of study by teachers who are specially trained in environmental studies. It would be necessary that these teachers have a broad perspective on a variety of other issues such as sociology, psychology, science, politics and philosophy (especially philosophy as related to moral theory). Such an option would present a fair measure of logistical issues concerning length of class-time with respect to the other subjects and would possibly entail an extended school day. Another alternative would be to find a way to mandate certain elements of environmentalism be integrated into all subjects. Considering the educational resources available (there exist many organizations that specialize in environmental instructional materials for all grade levels), it would not be a difficult task to accomplish. The curriculum would, of course, have to be structured in such a manner as to be age appropriate. We would not advise subjecting young children to the same level of anxiety and sense of impending doom that we must face as adults. But they can be imbued certain ways of viewing their relationship to the world that can act as a basic framework from which they form their consumption habits as adults. In addition, it would be particularly useful to instill them with a spirit of activism and direct participation in matters of public policy. The dramatic advances in communication technology have made the act voicing one's concerns to various elected officials or institutions a far less remote prospect.

In addition, we feel that the Department of Public Instruction should reinstate the position of Environmental Consultant in order to insure that there exist clearly defined environmental education standards of a more rigorous nature for those wishing to obtain a teaching certificate so that teachers also be instilled with a like-minded sense of duty towards the planet and humanity as a whole.

We face a critical juncture in human history. We must find the capacity within ourselves to transform our relationship to the world. This requires that we dispense with some of the more destructive elements of our adversarial tendencies. It is within our capacity as a self-creative species. That is our special joy and burden. That makes us powerful but it also renders us absolutely responsible for our fate. The very elements of the psyche that we can so powerfully employ towards self-deception we can and must now direct towards the love of all life, which, as far as we have hitherto discerned, exists only on this one planet.

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Minnie LiBy:
FoodIn:
Petition target:
Governor Jim Doyle

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