Teachers prepare for lesson plan on global warming

New Jersey public school teachers are preparing to add climate change lessons to their classrooms by September.

To help, the New Jersey Schools Boards Association and Sustainable Jersey, an organization that helps municipalities and schools with environmental sustainability, released a new 36-page report on Monday outlining the best way to prepare.

“Education is about preparing students for the future, because the future is truly theirs,” said Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. a live stream on the report. “Many of the kids entering kindergarten next September will likely be living in the 22nd century.”

By 2100, today’s kindergarteners could see sea levels along the Jersey Shore rise as much as 8.8 feet in a worst-case scenario, though scientists say increases between 1.7 and 6.3 feet are more likely, based on climate and emissions projections from Rutgers University NJ Climate Change Resource Center. The results could be catastrophic for New Jersey’s coastal communities.

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Educators, politicians and environmental activists said it was essential for the future.

“Achieving a sustainable future, collectively, is our greatest challenge,” said Randy Solomon, executive director of Sustainable Jersey.

Without a massive educational initiative, solving the problems of climate change will not be within human reach, Solomon said.

“We live in a democracy, and the basic requirement for solving any critical problem is that enough people understand the problem and support taking meaningful action to fix it,” he said. “The goal is to give tomorrow’s leaders the full breadth of what they need to know to find and implement solutions as members of society.”

Preparing for the future

New Jersey became the first state to require schools to teach about climate change, when the State Board of Education passed new curriculum standards in June 2020. The standards required lessons on climate change to be included in seven subject areas: work and life skills, health and physical education, computing and design thinking, science, social studies, visual and performing arts, and world languages .

Yet many teachers still don’t feel comfortable teaching about climate change, said Lauren Madden, an education professor at the College of New Jersey who helped prepare the new education report. Madden found in a survey of 164 New Jersey teachers that many were unsure of their ability to teach climate change content, and several teachers had misconceptions about the subject.

“We want to make sure teachers feel fully prepared to integrate climate change education across all grades and content areas,” Madden said during the School Boards Association live stream. “We also want to make sure that school communities, including families, administrators, school board members and community partners, are up to date with scientifically accurate information about climate change, to ensure our schools are designed to support a sustainable future and economic prosperity. “

A 2019 Teacher Survey by Ipsos and National Public Radio found that most teachers (82%) strongly believed that the climate was changing, while 86% believed that climate change should be taught in schools.

By comparison, 74% of Americans in 2019 believed the global climate was changing, according to the voting group.

New report aims to guide school leaders on how to help their teachers prepare to teach lessons about climate change, through professional development, free online resources and connections with environmentalists and professionals “green” career paths within their communities.

In terms of climate change education, “we can’t just think of polar bears on icebergs,” Madden said. “We have to think about what is happening here in our state.”

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Amanda Oglesby is from Ocean County and covers the townships of Brick, Barnegat and Lacey as well as the environment. She has worked for the press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, [email protected] or 732-557-5701.

Teresa H. Sadler