Back-to-school season is here, and students all over the country are heading back into their classrooms for a new school year — and kids in New Jersey have new lessons to expect this year. New Jersey is making headlines this week as it becomes the first state in the country to officially start including climate change as a part of its public school K-12 education curriculum. The New Jersey Student Learning Standards, which provide learning goals for each grade across different areas, now officially include climate change education. The goal, according to the NJ.gov website, is to teach students how and why climate change occurs, how it impacts communities, and how to make informed and sustainable decisions. First Lady Tammy Murphy had been advocating for this change, and the initiative was first adopted by the New Jersey State Board of Education in June of 2020, per TapInto. Read on to learn more about the new climate change curriculum, which is now officially being taught in New Jersey schools.
Climate Change Curriculum in NJ Schools
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) are specific guidelines tailored to each grade that delineate learning goals, per NJ.gov. “Refined through successive drafts and extensive feedback, the standards represent a synthesis of the best elements of standards-related work in New Jersey to date,” the website reads. “They offer the foundation on which districts build coherent curriculum and plan instruction to prepare each New Jersey student with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in our rapidly changing world.”
Now, NJSLS have been designed for the 2022-2023 school year to include climate change education within the curriculum. The goal of this initiative is to help students understand what climate change is, why it happens, the impact it can have on communities, and how students can make the most informed and sustainable choices in their daily lives.
The curriculum has been “designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to climate change education that is evidence-based, action-oriented and inclusive,” per NJ.gov. The hope of this education is that children will be able to help combat climate change regardless of the career they decide to pursue.
The implementation of this curriculum was thanks to a big push from First Lady Tammy Murphy, who has been advocating for this reform for a while. The New Jersey State Board of Education officially adopted the initiative in June of 2020, per TapInto. Now, two years later, it’s officially being brought into the classrooms for this upcoming school year — making New Jersey the first state in the country to have climate change as part of its core curriculum.
First Lady Tammy Murphy took to Twitter to express her excitement.
“Today marks the first day of the highly anticipated climate change education curriculum in our K-12 school systems, and I cannot be more thrilled about the future for our students and for our state,” she wrote.
Today marks the first day of the highly anticipated climate change education curriculum in our K-12 school systems, and I cannot be more thrilled about the future for our students and for our state.
— Tammy Murphy (@FirstLadyNJ) September 6, 2022
Governor Phil Murphy replied, “Our children are our future, and the lessons New Jersey students will learn with this new curriculum will bring us one step closer to building our green economy and reaching and sustaining 100% clean energy by 2050.”
Climate change education will be brought into the following content areas, per TapInto:
- 21st Century Life and Careers
- Comprehensive Health and Physical Education
- Social Studies
- Visual and Performing Arts
- World Languages