The Climate and Resilience Education Task Force (CRETF), a coalition of more than 100 teachers, community educators, students, and environmental groups advocating for interdisciplinary climate education.
Including the professional learning opportunities in New York’s K-12 schools, gave New York City Mayor Eric Adams high marks for including climate education in PlaNYC, the city’s newly revised strategic plan, announced earlier today. The CRETF has supported this initiative, along with the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Education, by making recommendations for incorporating age-appropriate climate education throughout all subjects and grade levels to ensure that the city’s children graduate with climate literacy.
According to the Mayor’s PlaNYC: “DOE will lead the integration of climate education and action across all subjects and grade levels through new educator training. A new teacher leadership team comprising up to 50 teacher-leaders across different schools will provide up to 1,000 educators with professional development through climate education trainings, workshops, and programs. DOE will also establish a school certification program for climate education, supporting up to 25 schools per year in achieving climate credentials. Additionally, DOE will launch [an] inaugural Climate Action Day in all public schools in the 2023-2024 school year, showcasing the importance of climate education and sustainability practices. By 2024, DOE will [also] launch new Career-Connected Learning Programs to prepare public school students for careers in the green economy.”
“New Yorkers are already experiencing the impacts of climate change in their daily lives,” said Emily Fano, senior manager for climate resilience education at the National Wildlife Federation and a Task Force co-founder. “As the largest school district in the country, New York City has a unique opportunity to model climate education leadership and create pathways to jobs in the clean energy economy. We’re thrilled that, for the first time, PlaNYC includes climate education and teacher training. Mayor Adams is giving our students the tools they need to understand the climate crisis and take action in their communities. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Mayor, the Department of Education, elected officials, and our colleagues to realize the goals outlined in the plan.”
“Young people deserve a meaningful education that prepares them to address pressing real world problems, of which climate change is a top concern,” said Ellery Spikes, a high school student, active member of CRETF’s Youth Steering Committee, and newly appointed member of NYSED’s Student Advisory Committee. “The high school students participating in the YSC are acutely aware that climate education is a crucial and often overlooked climate solution, and powerfully communicated this to the Mayor’s Office. Through our advocacy, we are drawing attention to the fact that, if implemented equitably and robustly, climate education has the potential to empower the next generation of civic leaders and improve the futures of millions of young people.”
As a response to the lack of resources, initiatives, and school standards focused on climate education, CRETF has created a multipronged approach to incorporating this important topic at the state level. Climate education must not be an afterthought, but an integral part of New York state’s policy agendas and budgets in FY24 and beyond, as per the CLCPA. Putting New York on a path toward carbon neutrality will only be possible if its students, workers, and communities are given the necessary tools to understand climate change impacts and solutions, and participate in a just transition.
“The changes that need to happen aren’t only at the city level, but rely strongly on state support and influence,” said Beau Morton, Director of Education at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a steering committee member of the CRETF. “Youth are our future, so we will need to ensure that they have solid, interdisciplinary climate education to help us overcome the climate crisis and develop solutions for a more just and resilient city and state.”
See the platform at CRETF.org and sign on as a signatory as the task force advocates for climate education!
The Climate and Resilience Education Task Force (CRETF), managed by the National Wildlife Federation and Harlem’s WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and with a body of 68 individual adult and organizational members and 35 high school student members of a Youth Steering Committee, works to expand access to interdisciplinary P-12 climate education across New York City and State.
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