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L.A. charter school adopts green curriculum

StellaMiddleSchoolWhen the fifth- and sixth-graders at Stella Middle Charter Academy learn about Egypt this spring, part of the lessons will focus on the ancient civilization's views and treatment of the environment.

It's part of a new green curriculum the West Adams school will pilot this year -- lesson plans praised by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday as "educating the next generation of environmental stewards."

Stella is one of 20 early adopters embracing California's Education and the Environment Initiative, or EEI curriculum, which was developed by California Environmental Protection Agency after a 2003 law mandated it. Piloted in 19 school districts throughout the state in 2008 and finalized in January 2010, the EEI curriculum consists of 85 units for grades kindergarten through 12. The lessons were crafted  meet the state's existing academic standards for science and history/social science while also teaching environmental literacy.

In kindergarten, for example, EEI uses a “Resources Bingo” game to show children the sources of their drinking water, with bingo boards showing natural resources such as rivers and teacher explanations on “where my drinking water comes from.” At the high school level, EEI teaches students why there is more water in northern California than in Southern California and explores the water transportation systems developed to supply fresh water.

"It's giving a new angle to material that's already being taught in our program," said Ari Engelberg, chief executive officer of Bright Star Schools, which operates Stella Middle Charter. "We're not an environmental charter, but the curriculum resonated with us because we do so much in the way of outdoor experiences for our students."

Engelberg said the school's 280 fifth- and sixth-graders often take field trips to national parks and participate in beach cleanups and walks and bicycle rides around the neighborhood.

One hundred schools throughout the state have adopted the EEI curriculum this year, said Lindsay VanLaningham, California EPA's deputy secretary for communication. Among the school districts that have adopted the environmental lesson plans are Santa Monica Malibu and Manteca.

Fully implemented, the EEI curriculum could reach more than 1,000 school districts, 9,900 schools and 6.2 million students in the state, VanLaningham said. Achieving that goal, however, is largely a matter of funding. Although the green curriculum is available online for free, teachers must be trained in the material and lessons printed. Cal EPA is working to form public and private partnerships to help fund the implementation of the curriculum in additional schools, she said.


L.A.'s green schools

California schools guide

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Students at Stella Middle Charter Academy. Credit: Elysa Vargas / Stella Middle Charter Academy

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I go to this school
from 6-8
right now im in eighth grade
im goin to 9th
this school teaches you alot and it's probably even better than some privates schools

I am a member of the Stella Middle Charter Academy team. We are a program that focuses on basic skills development including reading, writing, math, science, history and physical education. As PART of our science curriculum, we have introduced environmental awareness, conservatism, and recycling. Our students presented a report on the impending distinction of a particular mammal species to our visitors. They utilized their technology skills to research the topic, their reading and writing skills to learn and prepare information, art and math skills to create visual posters supporting their findings, and their presentation skills to make an oral report to our guests along with the media visitors, their school teachers, and administrators. Please visit our website at to learn more about the academic focus of our programs, including our adherence to a no "social promotion" policy that does not allow students to move up in grade levels until they have indeed mastered their basic grade level skills in all core subjects. We are very proud of our students, our teachers, and our exemplary program.

gee, they want more money, who would have guessed?

what a bunch of loonies on here who don't even understand that environmentalism is 100% rooted in math, reading, history, geography, business and science.

relating how those disciplines interact with the real world is a great way to (a) encourage the exact type of innovation we need in this generation of kids (b) to interest kids in dry academic subjects because the applications are exciting and real to them and (c) allow them to survive on a planet that is in serious decline thanks to ignorant selfish weirdos like some of the people on this thread.

MORE of this, please!

For information on the push to defund the public schools and give money to charter schools, research The Heartland Institute. It is an extreme right wing think tank operating in cities and states and not on the Federal level to push conservative policies. Paid for by the usual suspects of, The Koch brothers, the Walton family, the Prince family, (Blackwater), and the Amway family.
It was started in 1984 by the folks in the Reagan administration pushing the Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman economics at the University of Chicago, just like the Federalist Society was. It is based in Chicago.

Educating children on being good stewards of their environment IS a "basic". Children are not just little cogs in the American economic system waiting to be filled with facts and figures -- they are human beings, capable of discovering and learning from their reality -- part of a society, and we need to teach them (ALL of us), how to be responsible, conscientious, productive members of it. The "competitive" mentality treats education like a business, when, at its best, it's supposed to engender freedom, liberation, and equality. Calm down, your kid will be fine, even happier most likely, if they enjoy learning and intrinsically want to use it to make the world a better place, not just earn their spot in the money ladder, then die.

Thank god I can afford to send my kid to private school where the focus is on the basics: math, english, technology, music, art and physical education.

I can not imagine how public school children will compete when they grow up. It is really unfortunate. Our local public school tells us to focus on rankings within the district and California; this completely misses the mark. LAUSD is at the bottom of the barrel, California is at the bottom of the barrel and the USA is at best middle of the pack globally. We can't compete, so our answer is to cut the basics and embrace environmentalism? ROFLOL

Heads up to the school system: Our children are competing globally. And we are failing miserably. And misdirections like this just kick the can down the road.


How about teaching these poor kids how to read, write, do math problems, become decent citizens, and most importantly, how to think for themselves in all aspects of life...instead of turning them into crazed eco-bots. However, it looks as though we're getting some free beach clean up labor.


We can't teach math, english, music or art so we will refocus our efforts on the environment.

More feel good drivel from the education institution that continues to fail society.

The Education and Environment Initiative, what a terrific program! What could be better than for kids to learn about science and society with practical lessons and applications in their everyday life. Paul Taylor, you seem angry and confused - you better get that checked out.

Today the environmental movement increasingly mimics religion in its identification of humans as sinners against nature, its calls for personal redemption via lifestyle changes, its claims that environmental issues are moral priorities, and, with the predicted global warming apocalypse, it has its biblically-proportioned Armageddon. As with most religions, environmentalism also has its false prophets, and its extremist followers. Here the "ecologista" claim moral authority by requiring your adherence to the cause of environmentalism. Your personal commitment and sacrifice for their fanciful and costly climate change imperatives provide your path to environmental enlightenment, purity and ultimate green redemption.

Most of the green feel-good solutions have become common policy language in local, state and national environmental regulations. Worse, these policy goals are fed wholesale to our children in politically-correct school curricula where the mention of traditional religions has been banned for decades. Your kids are programmed to green worship. Global news media have been a willing and gullible accomplice in the hysterics of environmentalism.


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