We work with leaders at districts and county offices of education around the state that reflect the diversity of California’s geography and student population to support them in the process of integrating environmental literacy into their goals. These partnerships foster and demonstrate models set up for success and sustainability that are relevant to local communities and places.
School districts and county offices of education throughout California are engaged in environmental literacy planning and implementation, infusing standards- and environment-based learning as a foundational component of students’ K–12 educational experiences in science, history–social science, health, and other subjects. This first-wave group offers models for others across the state who are interested in how environmental literacy can support their own educational goals.
We engage with a wide array of community-based organizations, including museums, outdoor educators, water districts, local businesses, and government agencies. These organizations are important partners in creating opportunities for classroom, campus, community, and field-based experiences that support successful districtwide environmental literacy. CAELI regional support organization partners include Lawrence Hall of Science, State Education and Environment Roundtable, Inside the Outdoors, and Youth Outside.
Districts with environmental literacy programs:
CAELI’s work with school districts and county offices of education is focused on balancing the development of common strategies and resources that can be used to meet the particular needs of students and local communities.
Often, field and community-based experiences serve as the focal point for expanding environmental literacy experiences into classrooms and across content areas. Whether initiated by administrators or championed at first by teachers, educators across California are able to articulate more clearly each school year how academic curriculum, socio-emotional learning, student wellness, and school operations work together to create environmentally literate students empowered to create more sustainable and just communities.
CAELI works with partners to build the capacity of school districts working toward achieving environmental literacy for their students. District leadership teams are making strong headway on their environmental literacy implementation plans.
- Pajaro Valley and Alameda Unified School Districts are hosting environmental literacy professional learning for teacher leaders. All elementary schools in both districts now have teacher leaders committed to environmental literacy.
- San Francisco Unified School District has integrated environmental literacy into its curriculum and instruction priorities. They are collecting and analyzing data to determine who in the district has access to environmental literacy opportunities and who does not to ensure equity goals are met.
- Petaluma City Schools is adopting instructional materials and creating opportunities for local partners to learn about the curricula options, provide feedback, and start planning for programming that builds from the adopted materials.
- Santa Cruz County Office of Education developed a countywide vision for science that includes the importance and relevance of environmental literacy. They also hosted a countywide professional learning institute for teachers and community-based partners.
- In Rialto, the STEM Cares team includes educational services, facilities and operations leaders, and local business partners. Winning the 2019 U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award has furthered their momentum in developing a spectrum of programs from elementary outdoor classrooms and green schoolyards to robust career–technical education (CTE) pathways with local community partners.
- In Montebello, dedicated cross-campus grade-level teacher teams are designing and piloting outdoor inquiry units. As a result of their commitment, the school board is expected to approve science funding in the LCAP for the first time ever, and plans to invest in more professional learning to build the capacity of these teachers to mentor their peers.
- In Fontana, teachers on the Science Leadership Committee designed grade-level “Common Experiences” to ensure equitable access to high-quality science learning across the district. They have increased the district’s commitment to science professional learning through funding and by moving teacher collaboration sessions to full days with substitute teacher support included. Fontana’s district leadership team includes elementary and secondary specialists: At the K–5 level, the ELA program will integrate environmental literacy units, and at the secondary level, a high school has been selected to pilot an innovative expansion of its project-based learning approach to integrate both science and social studies.
- All 10 districts in Santa Cruz County are working together with the county office of education and the Lawrence Hall of Science to develop comprehensive districtwide plans for implementing NGSS with an environmental literacy lens.