At CAELI, we recognize that supporting environmental literacy in California ensures high-quality learning for all students. That’s why we work with educators, legislators, families, and communities to create a shared understanding of the value that hands-on learning based in students’ local places provides—as well as access to the tools for bringing environmental literacy into classrooms throughout California.
Partnership is key to working with California’s education leaders to support teachers, students, and communities. CAELI is actively engaged in strengthening the system of public education by fostering a culture of collaboration and support.
In 2004, as part of AB 1548 (Pavley), the State Board of Education approved California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs)—big environment-based ideas that explore the interdependence of human social systems and natural systems—and required that these concepts be expressed though a model curriculum, integrated into state frameworks, and included in state-approved K–8 science and history–social science core instructional materials and other subjects where practical. These actions express California’s significant commitment to environmental literacy.
AB 1548 also ensured the inclusion of the EP&Cs in new curriculum frameworks. They are now integrated into three frameworks: Science (2016), History–Social Science (2016), and Health (2019). Educators now have access to clear guidelines about how the EP&Cs can be implemented in their classrooms.
In 2017, CAELI and Ten Strands worked with Senator Ben Allen on SB 424, securing $4 million in state funding to support:
- Teacher requests for Education and the Environment Initiative Curriculum materials for their students; and
- The California Regional Environmental Education Community Network, which brings community-based organizations together with teachers and administrators to provide students with hands-on, environment-based experiences in the places where they live.
In 2018, CAELI partnered with Ten Strands to sponsor SB 720, which was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., on September 13, 2018. The bill was authored by Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond—now California’s State Superintendent for Public Instruction. SB 720 strengthens California’s commitment to providing all public school students with the opportunity to learn in, and through, their local environment, better preparing them to lead our state into the future. This legislation:
- Directs the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction, district superintendents, and their school boards to support environmental literacy;
- Codifies California’s adopted Environmental Principles & Concepts (EP&Cs) in Education Code as the state’s definition of environmental literacy;
- Moves core ideas from California’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy into California’s Education Code; and
- Ensures inclusion of the EP&Cs in new curriculum frameworks, providing educators clear guidelines on integrating environmental literacy into core subject areas and classrooms.