Should Public Education Include Environmentalism?

  • Published on February 13th, 2009

2008 Recycle Poster contest elementary art“It’s really important to help the earth and save the polar bears.” Stated a 9-year-old in Flossmoor, Illinois. At the time of her statement she was also coloring a “Go Green” sign at her desk, reports Ruth Ravve in her recent article entitled Environmental Lesson Plans Drawing Praise, Concern.

Western Avenue Elementary School participated in “National Green Week” February 2nd through 8th of this year. This annual event is organized by the Green Education Foundation. Schools sign up at the Green Education Foundation website in order to participate. Participation is also available for any organized group, individuals or families. President of the Green Education Foundation, Victoria Waters, explains

It’s important to start creating habits now, while children are young, because it can add up over a lifetime to make huge monumental consequences to the environment.”

While participating in National Green Week students of all ages are taught to use reusable containers for their lunches and drinks, to reduce waste at home and at school and to conserve water. In addition, students also learn that animals may be in danger because the earth is in trouble.

Although environmental messages have been promoted to children for years, some are speaking out about this now. Angela Logomasini, Director of Risk and Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute believes this is political indoctrination. As quoted in

“I think children should not be forced to take one set of values over another,” Logomasini said. “This isn’t simply about controlling litter, like we had in the ’70s. It’s more about recycling, living organically — it’s a lifestyle choice that is being forced on students whether they like it or not, whether parents like it or not.”

Ms. Logomasini does not think “this type of teaching” should be allowed in “taxpayer funded schools”. My question is where do we stop this removal of any type of value based lessons in schools? Prayer led by teachers or school officials was removed from schools in 1962, replaced by a “moment of silence“. Although beginning each school day with a moment of silence is much less controversial legal battles continue today attempting to end this practice too. Hefty legal battles over the public display of The Ten Commandments rage on and now someone wants to stop teaching our children to be good stewards of the earth, or more simply their immediate surroundings?

Environmental messages have been presented to children through books and programming for years. Many children’s shows such as Go Diego Go and Arthur incorporate environmental messages into their stories. Discovery Kids channel and Animal Planet are popular among children and those networks have a definite green message. Dr. Seuss wrote stories with strong environmental messages, particularly The Lorax, a story about fictional Truffula Trees that are chopped down for greed and big business. In order to avoid environmental influence in schools or outside of schools all children’s literature and programming would have to be scrutinized heavily.

As a country the majority of our school age children are in the public school system. We are entrusting our children on average 6.7 hours per day, for approximately 180 days out of the year to the teachers and administrators of this system. Shouldn’t we consider the consequences if we remove all moralistic, values based teaching from our school system? Getting along with your peers, refraining from stealing, respecting authority, being honest, working hard for the grades you receive, and taking care of the environment are a few of the things we all need to learn to have a successful society both nationally and globally.

Whatever your views on a moment of silence or the Ten Commandments, is there any possibility we can refrain from protesting picking up trash and conserving water?

Related posts:

Encourage Your School to Go Green by Weighing in its Trash
Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge First Step of K-12 Sustainability Education Initiative

Take Action: 5 Ways to Green Your Child’s School


The Green Schools Act Will Lesson Your Child’s Carbon Footprint

Photo Credit: Montgomery City Division of Solid Waste Services via Flickr Creative Commons, photo from 2008 Recycling Poster Contest





About the Author

I graduated from Wesleyan College (Macon, GA) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. Definitely part of the "conservative minority" I discovered my passion for good discussion with those who may not share my ideological views. My interest for anything Green was sparked by my young daughter who seemed to innately have a passion for anything environmental, from citrus groves ruined by developers to people recycling in their homes. She ignited change in this conservative household. My desire to help conservatives pursue green in their daily lives led me to Go Media, Inc. and to being part of their political writing team. I am a conservative girl, redefining stereotypes and labels.
  • Jan

    If we want kids to care about the Earth, their own environment, and nature in general – they need an awareness and some education about why it is important. The education needs to be age appropriate – not scary. Kids in inner cities might have little connection with the outdoors or wildlife. However, those who are educated about the environment tend to take better care of their own community spaces and have an increased awareness about how they can make a difference. It feels like the right thing to do.