September 20, 2023
California Department of Education Leaders Join Federal Officials on the Green Strides Tour: “Schools for Climate Solutions”
SAN FRANCISCO—California Department of Education (CDE) Deputy Superintendents Malia Vella and Abel Guillén this week joined U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Glenna Wright-Gallo, as well as other federal state and local officials, for a visit to San Francisco Bay Area schools as part of the U.S. Department of Education Green Strides Tour .
This year’s theme is “Schools for Climate Solutions.” As climate change continues to accelerate, schools and families are greatly impacted. Climate change has disproportionate effects on historically under-resourced communities and communities of color and perpetuates existing challenges for schools to maintain healthy learning environments. To address climate change, schools are working to mitigate impacts and adapt to current and future changes.
One school actively addressing climate change that was visited is Edison Elementary in Alameda, where Deputy Superintendent Vella resides and serves on the City Council. “I’m proud of what our local students are doing—fifth-grade ‘Go-Green Helpers’ at Edison Elementary help with sorting compost/recycling and also assist with ‘food share,’ or left-over food that gets shared with other students or sent to the Alameda Food Bank at the end of the week,” Vella said. “In addition, students from this school previously wrote to the Alameda City Council to get single-use straws banned. The ordinance passed council several years ago. They also led efforts to require compostable containers for single-use options for take-out dining. Again, that ordinance was passed. It’s a model for climate change education and civic action.”
“The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record, so everyone needs to act to address the climate crisis and our schools play a major part of the solution,” said Deputy Superintendent Guillén. “Climate change education connects to all subject areas, prepares students for college and career pathways in the green economy, and provides opportunities for civic learning.” Schools on the tour are embedding climate solutions into their facilities management and curriculum, thereby ensuring that students and communities are healthy. As part of the tour, the schools discussed their innovative practices and strategies for making schools resilient.
Deputy Superintendents Vella and Guillén visited school buildings, gardens, and grounds during the tour. They conversed with educators and students regarding environmental education and project-based learning and discussed efficient and renewable energy technologies that help improve health and save districts money with key facilities personnel.This event comes as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond continues to make STEAM education and environmental literacy among his top priorities. Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE are actively working with other agencies to promote designing and constructing sustainable facilities and outdoor spaces —supporting The California Schoolyard Forest System , a concept recently developed by Green Schoolyards America—and promoting the Green Ribbon Schools Award Program.
“We have long known that students of all ages thrive outdoors. Green schoolyards and forests have an inherently transformative ability to equitably provide a place that meets the needs of the whole child to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged,” Thurmond said.For more information, and a list of California’s Green Ribbon Schools 2023 Award winners, see the April 20, 2023, CDE news release.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100