‘Environmental Ethic’ Is Urged

September 20, 1989 1 min read

Washington--Ignoring an increased public awareness of ecological hazards, professional educators continue to trun a deaf ear to proponents of environmental education in public schools, according to participants at a national “public hearing” planned as the first step in hammering out a strategy for developing an national “environmental ethic.’'

“Environmental education is not a big concern. It’s a low priority for adminstrators,” said Rudolph J. H. Shafer, a former Los Angeles classroom teacher who is now executive director of the Western Regional Environmental Education Council.

But, other experts testified, while much can be done in traditional school settings to infuse environmental education across the curriculum, environmentalists need to reach out to such constituencies as urban and minority youths, if they hope to sucessfully modify public behavior.

Mr. Schafer joined other precollegiate educators, as well as experts from academia, science, and other fields who testified in favor of greater national emphasis on environemntal literacy before a panel of experts at a national forum here jointly sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alliance for Environmental Education, Inc., an national umbrella organization.

The testimony gathered at the two-day conference, dubbed “Planet at Risk: Charting an Environmental Ethic,” will be collated into a document that will be presented to e.p.a. Administrator William K. Reilly, as a first step toward Mr. Reilly’s publicy acknowledged goal of emphasizing education to conbat environmental degradation.

In a letter to panelists, Mr. Reilly said the information gathered by the panel would have “a significant influence in shaping our strategy.”

The tone of the conference was set by Cathy Bell, representing Kids Against Pollution, a national grass-roots organization, which was founded by students at the Tenakill School in Closter, N.J.

The group, now has affiliates across the country, is working toward passage of constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to clean air and water because “adults are running up a bill on their credit cards that my generation has to pay,” Ms. Bell said.--pw

A version of this article appeared in the September 20, 1989 edition of Education Week as ‘Environmental Ethic’ Is Urged