Climate Change Education in New Jersey Learning Standards
Beginning in September 2021, all New Jersey public schools will be required to integrate climate change into curriculums for students in K-12 schools. This initiative was brought to the New Jersey State Board of Education by First Lady Tammy Murphy, making New Jersey the first state in the nation to standardize climate change education across K-12 learning standards. The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) now require climate change education across seven subject areas: 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages. Climate change standards have also been added to the appendices of the Mathematics and English Language guidelines, which are up for review in 2022.
A standards review team—which included 130 educators from public and private elementary, middle, high schools, charter schools; from rural, urban, and suburban districts; parents; non-profit organizations and agencies, and representatives from business, military, health, and nonprofit organizations across the state—offered input for each of the subjects during a public review period. All of the revisions were made with consideration of public input and feedback received through public statements, written comments, and feedback submitted through the New Jersey Department of Education website. Murphy, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education, visited elementary, middle, and high schools that have already implemented strong climate change and sustainability education programs to hear what has been successful in their schools. The Department’s expectation is that districts will use the coming 2020-21 school year to become familiar with the new standards and then begin implementation of the standards over the following two years.