It’s A First! Maryland Students Must Be ‘Green’ To Graduate

Maryland has become the first state in the country to require students to be “environmentally literate” in order to graduate from high school.
The Maryland state board of education voted last Tuesday, June 21, to require that students get a “comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education” before receiving a diploma. Districts will have to develop plans for coursework that meets state standards in environmental literacy and have their plans approved by the state superintendent of schools.

They will also have to develop ways to assess students’ mastery of the material in order to determine if they are eligible for graduation. The requirement will apply to students entering high school in the fall.

Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a statement calling the board’s action “a defining moment for education in Maryland,” while environmental advocates were even more effusive. Don Baugh, head of the No Child Left Inside Coalition promoting federal environmental literacy legislation, called it a “momentous day.”

Environmentalists had initially howled over draft guidelines adopted by the state board last fall, complaining they would let school systems get by without doing anything – essentially claiming they were teaching environmental literacy simply by offering existing math and science courses. But state School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and board members reassured activists they really meant to strengthen environmental education, and advocates say the final rules seem to make that clear.

The new environmental instruction should not require any additional funding or staff, according to the governor. But by adopting the requirement Maryland may be in better position to receive federal funding for green literacy, under national No Child Left Inside legislation to be reintroduced in Congress. The bill’s chief sponsor is Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat.


I’ve certainly taught in plenty of schools that had a strong environmental education component, and some private schools that made environmental education a graduation requirement.
But this is the first time a state board of education has made green literacy mandatory for its students to graduate. Way to go, Maryland!

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region via Creative Commons


Arielle Black-Foley

Yes! Hoping that this catches on!

Yvette T.
Past Member 6 years ago

This must go global.

Beth Weatherbee
Beth Weatherbee6 years ago

This is an encouraging first. Hopefully many of the states will follow.

Inge L.
Past Member 6 years ago

Wonderful! Very important steps toward an environmental society, education is everything.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare6 years ago

I'm soooo proud of them :')
I wish this was global; 99% of my class wouldnt have graduated (yes, I'm the 1% :P)

ReElectBarack Obama
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you.

Iona Kentwell
Iona Kentwell6 years ago

It's vitally important that we all have a real understanding of the needs of our planet. However it is also vitally important that we all have the ability to think for ourselves. Our schools need to help our children learn the skills to ask the questions, research for themselves and develop their own thoughts based on this. Necessary to this is high levels of literacy and numeracy. Until our school systems can achieve these skills our children will not be given the start to their adult life that they as individuals and we as a society need.

Anne K.
Anne K6 years ago

This makes me very proud of my home state! Although I have moved many times and am currently living in Florida, my Maryland roots prevail. I remember an elementary school teacher instructing us (students) to write letters to county commissioners asking to save the small patch of woods adjacent to the school.

iii q.
g d c6 years ago

Very progressive thinking! Good show!

Juliet D.
judith sanders6 years ago

How about our elected representatives? I really don't want to vote for anybody who can't get a '4' or better on the high school AP tests for Environmental Science, Statistics, Economics, US History and Government. Prove you're worthy of a leadership position.