The U.S. Department of Education announced today the creation of the Green Ribbon Schools program to recognize schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy. The new awards program will be run by the Education Department with the support of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"Preparing our children to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at an event announcing the new program. "It's work that will serve future generations and quite literally sustain our world."
"Each day, we ask students across the nation to demonstrate excellence, integrity and leadership in the classroom, and in return, the Federal Government must do the same," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "The Green Ribbon Schools program will recognize healthy learning spaces that promote environmental literacy and prepare our leaders of tomorrow to win a clean energy future."
"The schools taking part in this initiative will help kids connect what they're learning in science class with the world around them, allowing them to envision solutions to tomorrow's challenges while living healthier lives today," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "By making green living a part of everyday learning, Green Ribbon Schools will prepare our children to win the future by leading our global green energy economy."
The Green Ribbon Schools program reflects President Obama's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and preparing today's students for jobs in fields that provide clean energy solutions.
EPA Administrator Jackson and CEQ Chair Sutley joined Secretary Duncan at the announcement at a ceremony planting a tree at the Department of Education's headquarters. The Texas live oak they planted is the same tree that is depicted in the Education Department's seal, symbolizing the Department's commitment to securing our nation's future by promoting student achievement and fostering education excellence.
The Green Ribbon Schools program will be modeled after the Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which annually honors public and private schools that are either high performing or have improved student achievement to high levels.
Through the Green Ribbon schools program, the Education Department, the EPA, and CEQ will recognize schools for energy conservation, creating healthy learning spaces, and teaching environmental literacy.
"Environmental literacy is an important part of a well-rounded, world-class education," Secretary Duncan said. "Through the Green Ribbon Schools program, we'll be holding up schools that are leading the way in teaching science and in ways that show students the importance of developing clean energy sources and sustainable solutions for the environment."
The application for the program will be released later this year, and the first group of "Green Ribbon Schools" announced next year.