This week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley recognized 78 schools as part of the Department of Education’s first-ever Green Ribbon Schools at Stoddert Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
Now, you may be wondering, what exactly is a Green Ribbon School and why should this program matter to you whether you have school-age kids or not?
To begin with, the award recognizes schools’ achievement in raising awareness of environmental impact, health and education. This year, it was based on three pillars of achievement: reducing environmental impact (i.e. waste, water and greenhouse gas emissions), ability to improve the health and performance of students and staff and environmental and sustainability literacy of school graduates.
In part, this voluntary program came about in response to the critical shift going on now in the global economy. In order for America to compete in this 21st century economy we can’t just make fast cars or manufacture the highest quality products. To truly compete, Americans have to engineer the fastest most fuel efficient cars and manufacture the highest quality products with the least waste. And so we need to prepare today’s students for this new economic reality.
What better way to for students to learn and see how and why to make the world around them more sustainable than in their own classrooms?
Students sitting in classrooms today are the future of the American economy. They will be the ones building, designing, teaching, selling, implementing, and maintaining all the facets of industries that will drive the global economy. It’s as important to invest in our children as it is in the technology they will be charged with operating and innovating.
Modern, greener schools in America must also be part of the green economy. Apart from providing critical hands-on education, taking on this initiative means healthier classrooms for our children to learn in, as well as good jobs for American workers.
To prepare the workforce of the next generation, we have to make a commitment to ensure our students have both a good learning environment and a well-rounded education that includes learning about the environment.
To the students and staff at these 78 schools, you should be proud of the work you’ve done and your communities should be proud of the recognition you’ve received. Take this important opportunity to be an ambassador for the green economy today and as you move through the rest of your education.