Environmental Literacy Improvement Act

Section 1. {Title}

This act shall be known as the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act

Section 2. {Purpose}

The purpose of this act is to enhance and improve the environmental literacy of students and citizens in the state by requiring that all environmental education programs and activities conducted by schools, universities, and agencies shall:

(A) be specifically designed to enhance acquisition of knowledge.

(B) be based on current scientific and economic principles, concepts, and facts.

(C) provide a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner.

(D) provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific and economic controversies.

(E) be presented in language appropriate for education rather than for propagandizing.

(F) provide clear references and citations to all sources of factual information.

(G) encourage students to explore different perspectives and form their own opinions.

(H) encourage an atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas.

(I) not be designed to change student behavior, attitudes or values.

(J) not include instruction in political action skills nor encourage political action activities.

Section 3. {Environmental Education Council Duties and Powers}

(A) The Council is established to facilitate the planning, coordination, and implementation of the purpose of this act.

(B) The Council shall advise the schools, universities, and agencies who are conducting environmental education programs and activities.`

(C) The Council shall establish a resource center that lists only those environmental education materials (textbooks, curricula, state programs, and activities) that conform to the purpose of this act. The Council will actively seek countervailing scientific and economic views on environmental issues and make materials that contain these views available to schools, universities, and agencies, which are conducting environmental education programs and activities.

(D) The Council is authorized to issue reports of the findings of its work to the general public. The Council shall issue a report to the Governor and the Legislature at least once a year. {specify date}

(E) The Council shall establish a simple process by which parents and citizens will be able to appeal to the Council for a ruling on whether textbooks and curriculum materials are adhering to the purpose of this act. This process shall apply to materials only. The intent of this appeals process is to provide a mechanism, which will identify biased materials currently used or potentially used in classrooms, programs or activities. Once identified, balanced and objective environmental education materials and programs will then be used. Such a provision will allow teachers, parents, and interested citizens to work together to improve the environmental education received by students.

{Suggestion for appeals process: Any parent or citizen could bring biased environmental education materials to the attention of the Council with a written request for a ruling. The Council will only accept written reports with copies of the materials attached. The report will document the bias. The Council will then supply this written report to the school district or state agency using materials. The district or state agency will have 30 days to respond in writing and then the Council would 90 days to provide the Council with its plan to bring the environmental education materials into conformance with the purpose of this act. No sanctions are imposed other than the Council publishing a list of materials and schools using those materials which are not in conformance with the purpose of this act.}

Section 4. {Appointment and Composition of the Council}

(A) Composition: The Council shall consist of members who have expertise in the following areas in the respective proportions:

40 percent natural sciences (not environmental science)

40 percent economic sciences

20 percent educational curriculum

{Council members shall have advanced degrees in these fields, but appointments are not limited to college and university professors}

(B) Appointment: {The exact number of Council members and the appointing process will be determined by the author of the bill.}

Section 5. {Definitions}

(A) “Environmental education” means educational processes, programs and activities which are specifically designed to enhance student acquisition of knowledge of scientific and economic principles, concepts, and facts as they relate to environmental topics and issues and which are taught in an unbiased, fair, and balanced manner.

(B) “Current scientific and economic principles, concepts and facts” means scientific and economic information that either has been updated within the last five years or has not been shown to be out of date.

 Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on June 2000.

Reapproved by ALEC Board of Directors on January 28, 2013.

Keyword Tags: Education, Energy Environment and Agriculture Task Force, Environmental Literacy, Science