64 | Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly
Little if any literature exists about how changes
in government environmental education policy
have come about, particularly changes at the
state level. As a result, it is almost impossible
for those interested in changing environmental
education policy in their state to learn from what
has happened in other states.
This article features three states (Maryland,
California, and Oregon) that have made
exemplary progress in environmental education
policy, with policy shifts that have the greatest
potential for changing the lives of their students.
• Maryland State Department of Education has
implemented a requirement that all students
must be environmentally literate to graduate
from high school.
• California has invested $12 million to
integrate environmental education into the
state science and social studies curriculum.
• Oregon has created an Outdoor School for All
program that will provide every fifth or sixth
grade student in the state with one week of
outdoor environmental education.
Implementing policy change offers significant
leverage. The rules of any system are often
embedded in policy; and as Donella Meadows
pointed out in Leverage Points: Places to
Intervene in a System,
1 changing the rules of a
system is a major leverage point in changing how
a system operates. Careful investment of time and
Education Policy Victories
James L. Elder, LL.D.