Last week I accompanied my children to a theatrical performance at their school. It was undeniably cute and funnier than the average elementary presentation, but the surprising thing was the subject matter. The engaging production dealt with global warming, but made the topic charmingly relevant to children. Later that day my kids came home with a Cool the Earth Coupon Book. Each child is supposed to convince their parents to commit to at least five actions to lower the family's carbon footprint. There are actually a multitude of actions to choose from, like bringing your own reusable water bottles or committing to change 5 incandescent light bulbs to compact florescent bulbs (I actually prefer LED's, but you get the picture). We moved to this public school from the excellent private school that our children we attending so that we could eliminate our daily commute. Better yet, our local school recently became fully electrified by photovoltaic solar panels. But we are not alone. Global Green, with the support of many other organizations, is hard at work greening the Los Angeles school system and beyond. In fact, I have been inundated with articles about schools going green for the past couple of weeks.
Being eco-friendly is not merely a fashion statement, but a social and economic necessity. Teaching earth science curriculum out in the field and in naturally lit, toxin-free, well-ventilated classrooms inspires children to learn and teachers to perform at peak levels, creating what Global Green terms a "high-performance school." It has been noted that not only does attendance improve dramatically, but performance can increase by as much as 25% with proper daylighting and air quality improvement.
With politics on the forefront of American consciousness, we are discovering just how wide the lens extends across party lines. From our struggle against foreign oil dependency and rising fuel costs to global warming prevention and resource conservation awareness, it's clear that environmentalism is no longer relegated to the left side of the congressional bench. And nowhere is the mandate for substantive reform more pressing than in the classroom.
Though I hate to think my kids going off to university any time soon, I was pleased to read in Sierra Club Magazine that an increasing number of colleges are "going green," with a couple of Vermont colleges, University of Colorado at Boulder and Arizona State University leading the way. This is fantastic news, and I admire the parents and students who are factoring sustainability into their educational choices. Pretty smart, if you ask me!
P.S.: Find out how you can get your child's school involved in the cool programs that Cool The Earth offers or find out what personal actions your family can take: http://cooltheearth.org.
Follow Zem Joaquin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@zem