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NJ to Be First in Nation to Incorporate Climate Change Education

First Lady Tammy Murphy today announced that the New Jersey State Board of Education has adopted her initiative to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to incorporate climate change education across its K-12 learning standards. The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) outline what is taught in New Jersey’s public schools and sets the foundation for school districts to craft instruction and curricula.

With this adoption, climate change education will be incorporated across seven content areas—21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages. Climate change standards have also been added to the appendices of the Mathematics and English Language Arts guidelines, which are up for review in 2022.

“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,” said First Lady Murphy. “The adoption of these standards is much more than an added educational requirement; it is a symbol of a partnership between generations. Decades of short-sighted decision-making has fueled this crisis and now we must do all we can to help our children solve it.”

“A top priority of my Administration has been to reestablish New Jersey’s role as a leader in the fight against climate change,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “The adoption of these standards across our K-12 schools is an important step forward that will strengthen the future of New Jersey’s green energy economy. By incorporating these standards into the nation’s number one public education system, we are creating a catalyst and knowledge base for new green jobs and teaching our children to become leaders who will propel New Jersey forward to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.”

Over the past year, the First Lady has met with the over 130 educators from across the state who have been charged with reviewing and revising the existing student learning standards, a process that occurs every five years. Since 2018, the First Lady has visited elementary, middle, and high schools across the state that have already implemented strong climate change education and sustainability initiatives.

The process for reviewing and revising the NJSLS was informed by teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, and stakeholders from throughout the state. There was representation from public, nonpublic, and charter schools; from rural, urban, and suburban districts; non-profit organizations and agencies; and the military. The 2020 NJSLS were revised with consideration of the public input and feedback received through regional testimony sessions, written comments, and feedback submitted through the NJDOE website.

“I am incredibly proud that New Jersey is the first state in the nation to fully integrate climate education in their K-12 curricula,” said Vice President Al Gore. “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. We will need leaders who are not only well educated about the effects of climate change, but leaders who can craft the solutions for climate change and implement those solutions. Congratulations to First Lady Tammy Murphy and to all of New Jersey’s educators who have helped New Jersey reach this historic announcement.”

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