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New Jersey Becomes First State to Put the Climate Crisis in Its K-12 Curriculum

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Students walk by a sign reading "Climate Change" at the Doctor Tolosa Latour public school in Madrid, Spain on Sept. 9, 2014. In the U.S., New Jersey will be the first state to make the climate crisis part of its curriculum for all K-12 students. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP via Getty Images

New Jersey has invested in the future health of the planet by making sure the next generation of adults knows how human activity has had a deleterious effect on the planet. The state will be the first in the nation to make the climate crisis as part of its curriculum for all students, from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, as NorthJersey.com reported.


The Garden State's Board of Education adopted the standards on Wednesday, with the intention of implementing them for the start of school in September 2021.

The move drew praise from former Vice President Al Gore, who said in a statement, according to NJ.com: "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."

As NJ.com reported, the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, which outline what is taught in New Jersey's public schools, now include language that requires climate change education across seven areas: 21st Century Life and Careers, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages.

The move makes New Jersey the first in what is likely to be a nationwide trend. According to a NPR/Ipsos poll published last year, more than 80 percent of American parents and nearly 90 percent of American teachers said that climate change should be taught in schools.

New Jersey's First Lady Tammy Murphy had pushed for the change and was thankful to the board for the initiative on Wednesday, saying that it is a symbol of the state's commitment to the health and well-being of future generations.

"The adoption of these standards is much more than an added educational requirement; it is a symbol of a partnership between generations," said Murphy, in a statement, as Patch reported.

"Decades of short-sighted decision-making has 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," her statement added.

The release noted that climate change standards have also been added to the appendices of the math and English language arts guidelines, which are up for review in 2022, according to Patch.

Governor Phil Murphy first announced the future curriculum change in his State of the State speech in January, saying that it was a cornerstone of his clean energy push, according to NorthJersey.com.

Murphy said in a statement that the new standards will prepare a new generation for an economy that will be shaped by impacts from the climate crisis, particularly the energy sector.

"A top priority of my Administration has been to reestablish New Jersey's role as a leader in the fight against climate change," Murphy said in the statement, as NJ.com reported. "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."

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