Sharon Danks, Green Schoolyards America’s CEO, was honored to speak with the Mountain View Whisman School District’s school board at their meeting this month. Her presentation described the benefits of greening school grounds for both children and the local environment, and generated a lively dialogue. The Mountain View Voice published an article reporting on the event:
The Mountain View Whisman School District’s school board got a glimpse last week of what it would be like to bring green space and wildlife habitats to students and ditch the traditional cement-and-asphalt campuses.
… “Why study watersheds in a book when you can go outside and see where the rain goes when it falls, and how it travels from your rooftop here at your school to the local creek,” Danks said.
The California Department of Education appears to be on the same page. In September, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced a new plan for improving student instruction by introducing “environmental literacy,” which is intended to help students understand the importance of environmental stewardship in the face of climate change, wildfires and drought. The Blueprint suggests that schools provide at least 40 hours per school year of outdoor school time, and that school officials set aside 5 percent of bond funds for “multi-use outdoor ecological learning environments on school grounds.”
Danks later told the Voice that there are plenty of options on the table that are revenue-neutral, provided school districts are willing to acknowledge environmental education as a priority. It could be as simple as tearing out asphalt for construction of a new playground, and leaving it out once construction is complete, in favor of green space, she said.