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New Jersey becomes first state to incorporate climate change in school curriculum

Former Vice President Al Gore praised the move, calling it a historic announcement.

New Jersey becomes first state to incorporate climate change in school curriculum
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

New Jersey students will start learning about climate change in kindergarten and continue studying the environmental crisis through graduation under new education standards introduced by the state. The State Board of Education adopted the new guidelines on Wednesday making New Jersey the first state to include climate change education in its K-12 learning standards, officials said in a statement. As per the newly adopted learning standards, climate change education will be incorporated across seven different areas of content: 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts and World Languages.



"In New Jersey, we have already begun to experience the effects of climate change, from our disappearing shorelines to harmful algal blooms in our lakes, superstorms producing torrential rain, and summers that are blazing hot," said New Jersey's First Lady Tammy Murphy in a statement. "The adoption of these standards is much more than an added educational requirement; it is a symbol of a partnership between generations. Decades of short-sighted decision-making have fueled this crisis and now we must do all we can to help our children solve it. This generation of students will feel the effects of climate change more than any other, and it is critical that every student is provided an opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens.”


Meanwhile, Governor Phil Murphy said that since taking office, he has made it a top priority "to reestablish New Jersey’s role as a leader in the fight against climate change." He added that "the adoption of these standards across our K-12 schools is an important step forward that will strengthen the future of New Jersey’s green energy economy. By incorporating these standards into the nation’s number one public education system, we are creating a catalyst and knowledge base for new green jobs and teaching our children to become leaders who will propel New Jersey forward to 100 percent clean energy by 2050."


Murphy is said to have met with over 130 educators from across the state the past year, charging them with reviewing and revising the existing student learning standards. Former Vice President Al Gore praised the move, saying, "I am incredibly proud that New Jersey is the first state in the nation to fully integrate climate education in their K-12 curricula. This initiative is vitally important to our students as they are the leaders of tomorrow, and we will depend on their leadership and knowledge to combat this crisis. We will need leaders who are not only well educated about the effects of climate change but leaders who can craft the solutions for climate change and implement those solutions. Congratulations to First Lady Tammy Murphy and to all of New Jersey’s educators who have helped New Jersey reach this historic announcement."


"One of the goals of our learning standards is to ensure New Jersey students are prepared to think critically, analyze data, and work collaboratively," said New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. "These skills will be more important than ever as today’s young minds learn how to address the issue of climate change." New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe stated that the move further establishes the state's national leadership on both climate change and education. "Today's students are tomorrow’s residents, advocates, and contributors to New Jersey's clean energy economy," she said. "We are pleased to work as a team with the First Lady and the State Board of Education to provide New Jersey’s educators to empower future generations to reduce and respond to climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of this century."


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