Secretary Arne Duncan visited the Green Schools National Conference in Denver yesterday, where he praised the 1,500 educators in attendance for their commitment to greening our schools, developing environmental literacy, and nurturing stewardship and an ethic of sustainability in our students.
Arne called the gathering “a coming of age moment for the green movement in our schools,” declaring that the movement had matured to the point that environmental concerns were no longer viewed as anything less than essential.
“In the past, skeptics of green schools and the value of environmental literacy have claimed that reducing our ecological footprint and increasing understanding of the environment was a kind of zero-sum game,” Arne said. “Green schools and environmental literacy in fact complement the goals of providing a well-rounded education for the 21st century, of modernizing schools at reduced costs, and of accelerating learning.”
Arne pointed out how green schools nurture unique skills and knowledge that matter more than ever in today’s global economy.
Reducing disease, developing renewable sources of energy, curbing pollution, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are no longer challenges that stop at our borders. America simply cannot meet any of these challenges without collaborating with other countries. And those partnerships will require U.S. students to develop better critical thinking, a deeper understanding of science and sustainability, and a greater awareness of ecosystems and energy efficiency.
The conference attendees included principals and teachers, school board members, facility and energy managers, school nutrition professionals, students, and others, as well as representatives of environmentally-focused national organizations. Arne thanked them for their advocacy and support for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program, which he noted has inspired a variety of federal and state agencies to work together in innovative ways to help schools reduce their environmental impact, save energy, promote better health, and develop environmental literacy.
“Your movement is helping not only to change the culture of our schools for the better, but the culture of the Department of Education,” he said.
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Please note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.