“A foundation in civics is not a luxury but a necessity,” Secretary Duncan said earlier this year. “Students today absolutely need a sense of citizenship…they need to know their rights–and their responsibilities. Civics cannot be pushed to the sidelines in schools.”
Earlier this year, ED released a Road Map and Call to Action to ensure that today’s youth are educated to become informed, engaged, and effective citizens. At many of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), integrated civic education begins early; it lies at the core of robust environmental, STEM and green technology education. The 2012 ED-GRS honorees are using experiential service learning on sustainability topics to hone students’ core subject knowledge and to cultivate deep ties with their communities:
- In St. Louis, Crossroads College Preparatory School students contributed over 4,000 hours of community service in the local area, partnering with 16 nonprofits that focus on environmental issues. Activities included growing organic food, recycling and reusing bikes, restoring native habitats, removing invasive species, and constructing rain gardens.
- In Allison Park, Pa., the A.W. Beattie Career Center Carpentry program designed, constructed and donated an energy efficient model home to the Pennsylvania gaming commission.
- Students at the Learning Gate Community School in Lutz, Fla., send the produce from their garden to a community organization that feeds the homeless, donating over 2200 pounds in the 2009-2010 school year.
- Fishburn Elementary School in Roanoke, Va., collects gently worn clothing and goods and holds an annual environmental fashion show and resale to showcase the items, raising money for future environmental activities.
- At Environmental Charter High School, in Lawndale, Calif., students research and present their findings to elected officials, helping authorities to adopt environmentally and cost effective policies.
You see, for ED-Green Ribbon Schools it’s quite organic that students use environment and sustainability concepts to engage with their community. Honorees have long understood what ED’s 2012 civic road map highlights – that civic learning not only promotes civic skills and attitudes, but also builds twenty-first century competencies and increases student and community engagement. The civics projects of 2012 ED-Green Ribbon Schools can be implemented by any school to improve student outcomes.
De’Rell Bonner works in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach