Five Reasons to Attend the 2017 Green Schools Conference and Expo

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The Green Schools Conference and Expo is coming up! From March 21–22, education, facilities and green building leaders and advocates will gather in Atlanta, Georgia, for professional development, networking and advancement of the green schools movement. Kappa Delta Pi is proud to partner with the U.S. Green Building Council to promote this conference and expo.

Here are the top five reasons to come to GSCE 2017, broken down for educators, administrators and facilities and building professionals:

Educators:

  • Get ideas for how to make the outdoors your classroom. Learn how you can develop a sense of place for your students in nature, using natural resources and sustainability to teach science and writing. Come away with a toolkit of new teaching habits that are designed to immerse your students in the natural world.
  • Tackle the challenge of helping students to apply new concepts. Hear ideas on how to use data to empower student action, and learn how to craft projects that engage students in the concepts of sustainability and stewardship to the environment and their communities.
  • Explore how to address math and literacy standards while exposing students to nutritious eating habits with a food preparation and taste test. Strategize ways to make lessons in gardening, the environment and nutrition relevant to students of all levels, and come away equipped with a model lesson that can be calibrated to fit your students.
  • Maximize student engagement by using the context of the entire school environment and community at large. Break down the barriers and receive direct instruction in how to make sustainability cross-curricular, student-centered and empowering and fun for learners of all ages.
  • Learn to use Visible Thinking Routines and Human-Centered Design to create a mindset of sustainability in your school community. Actively participate in sample activities you can replicate in your own classroom, and collaborate with others in your content area to brainstorm resources and best practices. Problem-solve obstacles you face within your professional learning community, such as time restraints, siloed curricula and the focus on high-stakes testing.

Administrators:

  • Go beyond “buy-in” to integrate sustainability with all of your faculty and staff. Learn from experts who have defined an evidence-based professional learning framework that addresses shifting culture and teaching practice through effective, ongoing relationships. Explore how to grapple with the challenges of integrating education for sustainability within the constantly shifting landscape of education standards and with diverse opinions about the value of sustainability integration in our public schools.
  • Learn how to leverage space as the “third teacher” to positively influence the physical, mental and emotional health of students. Hear from experts about the architectural concepts that emphasize quality light, color, materials and acoustics, which reflect the growing national priority to plan and design high-performance school environments.
  • Hear what it takes to build successful school–community partnerships to lead a school toward sustainability. Learn how to develop strong guiding principles that help all stakeholders filter important information, discuss options and consider educational models to support the best interest of the community.
  • Better understand the innovation that happens when curriculum- and facilities-related decisions are integrated to promote sustainability. Explore a clear pathway for achieving a powerful level of collaborative leadership within a school district. Learn about educational leadership approaches and strategic partnerships that can reinforce school culture and practices that are in alignment with sustainability. Develop systems of measurement and evaluation to ensure desired educational and sustainability outcomes.

Facilities and building professionals:

  • Learn to tackle some of the greatest roadblocks to innovative school construction: mixing public and private funding, working within public school regulatory environments, balancing participatory design and the realities of getting a building constructed by looking at the whole campus rather than a single building as the organizing focus, and implementing “bleeding edge” construction technologies that are new even to construction partners.

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(Original post by Anisa Baldwin Metzger of the U.S. Green Building Council on Thursday, January 26, 2017. Images via http://greenschoolsconference.org/five-reasons-attend-2017-green-schools-conference-and-expo)

Stopping a Disastrous Cycle

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Imagine going into the hospital to have your tonsils removed and the operating room is filthy, the doctor is using decades-old instruments, and there are no nurses available to assist.

Most of us would turn around and run.

So, why do we send our children into schools every day with the same conditions—unsafe surroundings, lack of necessary materials and resources, and a staff without the specialties needed to address critical social-emotional issues that stand in the way of academic success?

Sadly, these students can’t turn around and run away, or at least not until they get older and drop out.

A federal suit filed with the U.S. District Court in Michigan last fall on behalf of five students from some of Detroit’s lowest-performing schools reveals the realities faced every day by students, parents, and teachers. In these schools, nearly all students read four to five years below grade level; enter buildings that are unsafe, vermin-infested, and filthy; have few textbooks, with some dating back to 1998; and lack staff members who are trained as literacy specialists, English learner instructors, and to reduce teacher turnover that negatively impacts academic achievement.

This class action lawsuit argues that the students have been denied their constitutional right to literacy as a result of the absence of oversight, inadequate funding, and little support by state officials. As an organization with a legacy of equity and a commitment to a quality education for all students that spans more than 105 years, Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) filed an amicus curiae brief, or friendly brief, that provides the court with additional information and facts, and supports the case presented in the lawsuit.

KDP’s brief asserts that while there isn’t explicit language in the Constitution about a right to literacy, citizens must have a certain level of literacy to be able to exercise their rights, such as obtaining a driver’s license, completing a job application, and joining the armed forces—most of which require the equivalent of a ninth-grade education.

“No skill is more important to the future of a child and to a democracy than literacy. Unfortunately, for many U.S. children, their fate is determined by their zip code,” said Faye Snodgress, KDP Executive Director. “Because education is the path to a better world, KDP supports educators around the globe to provide resources and services to improve academic outcomes for all students.”

By ignoring the conditions of these schools, everyone is paying a price—literally and figuratively.

Children are being denied a chance to fulfill their full potential as productive participants in the economy, constructive community members, and engaged citizens—which squanders our country’s youngest and most important resource.

This pattern perpetuates a life in poverty and translates into lost productivity, lower tax revenue, higher medical costs, increased crime and violence, and social instability.

KDP is pleased to have the International Literacy Association and the National Association for Multicultural Education join us in advocating for the right to literacy and a quality education for all students. As parents, educators, businesspersons, and community members, it is up to us to be a voice for equitable funding and resources, safe and clean schools, and qualified and supported teachers, which are essential for every child to reach his or her full potential and lead a fulfilling life. Find the official press release here.

Faye_S_7-1-14Faye Snodgress is the Executive Director for Kappa Delta Pi.

Our United Nations Anniversary

Dear Friend of KDP,

Through the globalization movement and the use of technology that connects us both personally and professionally, the world has become smaller on multiple levels. Today, we have a better understanding of other cultures, regularly collaborate with peers from around the globe, and increasingly have a shared awareness that our futures are intertwined as we share one planet and its limited resources.

KDP has a rich legacy of promoting global understanding through the sharing of knowledge and establishing relationships with people from around the world. For example, in 1948 as KDP President, Dr. William Robinson gave 200 subscriptions of the Educational Forum to educators living in occupied Germany and China. Throughout our history, KDP has embraced activities, partnerships, and advocacy efforts that support our long-standing commitment to equity, global awareness, and quality learning for all.

With a goal of supporting global education endeavors and building the organization’s capacity, KDP applied for and was granted the status of a non-government organization, or NGO, of the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in 2010.

Today, we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of being recognized as an NGO of the United Nations!

KDP has five official representatives—which include three professional representatives and two youth representatives (between 18 and 25 years old).

Our representatives attend the weekly briefing, meetings, seminars, receptions, and other activities, and then share the information with the KDP community to keep you informed of critical global issues and to provide you with suggestions for integrating this relevant information into your classroom. The weekly briefing topics range from girls’ and women’s access to education, immigration, population and development, and special youth events.

Click here for an example of a recent Briefing Report on A Grassroots Approach to Education for All from one of our youth representatives, Clairetza Felix.

Since receiving official NGO status, KDP has fulfilled its role in a variety of ways, including hosting a conference with the Committee on Teaching about the UN on peace and conflict resolution and ongoing participation in various UNESCO meetings including the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Education for Sustainable Development. Personally, I serve on the Expert Committee for this Institute.

KDP’s mission of quality learning for all and our strategic goal related to sustainability literacy align with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, which speaks to a quality and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.  

One target of this sustainable development goal (4.7) states, “By 2030 all learners will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development and sustainable and lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

The UN and the world have realized that achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the U.S. government in 2015, is dependent on education, and more specifically the transformation of education.

You may still have questions about what exactly sustainability literacy means. A student who is educated for sustainability has the ability, ambition, and know-how to create a world that works for everyone and every creature, now and forever. So what needs to happen to achieve the necessary level of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be sustainability literate? The integration of sustainable education calls for changes in the classroom, in the school, and in the community. It requires new approaches to preservice and inservice teacher professional development, a targeted research agenda, revised conceptions of student assessment, updated school policies, and inspired leadership.

Aside from our focus on sustainability education, the UN’s events and resources help us, as educators, and our students to be better global citizens by reminding us of key events and milestones throughout the year. 

For example, November 19 is World Toilet Day, a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and the fact that 2.4 billion people do not have access to a toilet.

Our role and responsibilities as an NGO to the United Nations and our access to the wealth of quality resources and knowledge on timely global topics the UN produces play a key role in the work of KDP and our community of educators who strive to create a better future.

As educators and citizens, we are reminded of the necessity of thinking globally while acting locally.

There has never been a more important time to be an educator.

I encourage you to check out the blogs of our representatives and the UN resources on our website as great ways to stay current on the issues, challenges, and opportunities that are impacting our world.

Faye_S_7-1-14Sincerely,

Faye Snodgress, CAE
Executive Director

Celebrate Family & Consumer Sciences Day by “Dining In!”

AAFCS_Day_Logo_2015ouKappa Delta Pi is a proud partner of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), and we are celebrating Family & Consumer Sciences Day on December 3, 2015, alongside more than 100,000 other individuals, families, and organizations!

The event, themed “Dining In” for Healthy Families, was an ASAE Power of (A) 2015 Silver Award Winner. The chosen date honors AAFCS Founder Ellen Swallow Richards, the first female MIT graduate.

Carolyn W. Jackson, CFCS, AAFCS CEO, says “Family & Consumer Sciences Day calls attention to something simple families can do to be physically, mentally, and financially healthier—prepare and eat a nutritious meal together. We are proud to lead this important initiative.”

AAFCS and family and consumer science professionals have spent the past weeks educating students, families, government agencies, businesses, and other organizations on nutrition, healthy food preparation, and food safety with an overall focus on well-being, resources, and relationships.

kimhfsFamilies who eat a healthy meal, especially those who prepare the meal together, are shown to have stronger family communication and family traditions. Children develop life skills needed to live a healthier lifestyle, have a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, and perform better schools.

The obesity epidemic is fueled by unhealthy eating patterns and a lack of food preparation knowledge. AAFCS uses Family & Consumer Sciences Day to highlight the benefits of healthful eating as a family.

Need meal ideas, motivation to eat healthy, or want to be part of the dining in movement? The official Family & Consumer Sciences Day website has all of the resources you need to participate in the day.

Help AAFCS meet their goal of 200,000 pledges! To join KDP in participating, sign the pledge and commit to preparing and eating one healthy meal with your family or friends; then share your commitment or a photo of your healthy mean with #FCSday and #healthyfamselfie on Facebook or Twitter.

How Do We Prepare Graduates to Thrive in the 21st Century?

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

How do we provide quality education that prepares children to live and thrive in a rapidly changing world? Depending on where you live in the world, there are some cultural differences in how a quality education is delivered, but the goals are the same around the globe.

Faye in China 3From the children of Nomads in Mongolia to teenagers in Beijing, education systems are being reoriented so that everyone has the opportunity to get the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Research and case studies showing how these goals are being realized was the focus of the third Asia Pacific Education for Sustainable Development Expert Meeting held in Beijing June 2-4, 2015.

Educators from the Philippines, Canada, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Laos, Sweden, Thailand, China and the U.S. participated in the meeting. Having been invited to share the work of KDP in advancing the understanding of education for sustainabile development (ESD), I was honored to have the opportunity to learn from international colleagues who have made substantial progress in infusing ESD in their national education systems.

Faye in China 2During our two days together, we reviewed global evidence related to the successes and challenges of delivering quality education through the implementation of ESD. A common reference point for many of the discussion and presentations was the findings from a recently released research report which studied 18 countries that incorporate sustainability in their education and traditional disciplines to prepare graduates to thrive in the 21st Century. The research results provide abundant evidence that ESD contributes to a quality education and promotes the learning of skills, perspectives, and values necessary to foster and maintain sustainable societies.

Faye in China 1As is so often the case, it is through conferring with others who are doing similar work that helps us to grow professionally and be inspired by others’ successes. I look forward to using the experiences and insights of this new group of colleagues to help inform KDP’s effort to infuse ESD in the U.S. education system and to grow a widespread commitment to include the important goals of educating for a sustainable future in our classrooms.

If you would like to learn more about education for sustainable development, University of Edinburg in Scotland is offering a free online course starting June 22. This five-week course requires a 1-3 hour time commitment each week. University of Edinburgh produces high quality ESD programs and materials. Learn more about the course on the Learning for Sustainability: Developing a Personal Ethic web page.

Every Day is Earth Day

Jim Poyser left his long career in journalism to become executive director of Earth Charter Indiana in 2013. ECI’s youth program, Youth Power Indiana, engages youth in stewardship and leadership practices; ECI’s other main program is Sustainable Indiana 2016, which encourages sustainability actions across the state.

Photo by Michelle Craig

Photo by Michelle Craig

When people ask me why I never take a day off from my work at Earth Charter Indiana, I always kid them with the following thought experiment: Do you ever wake up, get ready to go work, open the door, and there’s no there there?

Mother Nature never takes a day off, why should I?

Funny thing is, it’s true. I don’t take days off, and I actually wouldn’t know what that meant anyway. I am very fortunate that my job is my passion and engages all of my creativity. How do you take a day off from that?

That’s what I would wish for YOU this Earth Day: that you find a similar arrangement – if you haven’t already – for yourself. I submit it doesn’t even have to be about stewardship, per se, just an alignment of heart, purpose and personal sustainability.

So what do we do at Earth Charter Indiana? Find the interconnections between our too-numerous-to-count global challenges—environmental degradation, economic disparity and political apathy. Right now, because there are so few organizations in Indiana directly fighting climate change, we are focusing on that, connecting the dots around sustainability and stewardship.

To that end we combine art with science to celebrate and showcase our growing consciousness and action. We aim to raise everyone to leadership, especially our youth. But I don’t think you need to read about that right now. You can click on the links in my bio, below, to explore more.

Instead, in this short space I have, I will make the assumption you know something is terribly wrong in the way we live; it’s not sustainable. We’ve become disconnected from nature and democracy. All the creatures are suffering from it. And we have to change quickly to head off the worst effects of our climate crisis and consumer craziness.

What to do? The answers are standard but true. Pick something you love that also demonstrates your love for the earth and do it well and all the time. For me, it is riding my bicycle as much as possible, even in terrible weather. For you, it might be being vegetarian or vegan. Or growing your own food. Or reducing your waste to the point where your trash can gathers cobwebs!

Once you get started on that garden or that waste reduction project at home, etc., then take it to your neighborhood and to your place of employment.

Take your growing awareness and action and go to the next level: demand your institutions (including your own personal portfolio) take their investments out of fossil fuels and put them into clean energy like solar and wind. Divestment is one of the most powerful movements imaginable (money talks!)—and it is happening on a worldwide basis.

Run for office, or support a candidate who shares your urgency and is not afraid to go against the political popularity contest our democratic system has become.

Have courageous conversations with those who are unwilling to grasp scientific reality or to accept the responsibility of being a good steward.

Hug a teacher, for they could use the encouragement.

Mostly, be joyful and happy in the progress you make, because it will inspire others to create their own adventure of living every day as if it were Earth Day.

Politicians want and need to hear from you

Faye Snodgress is executive director at Kappa Delta Pi.

2014 Day on the Hill Sen Warren's officeLast week, 10 KDP members joined AACTE for its annual Day on the Hill. From members of the Texas State University chapter acknowledging their appreciation of Pell Grants to introducing Congressional staffers to education for sustainability, the experience was a huge success.

Our AACTE colleagues provided guidelines and suggestions related to pending legislation, information about appropriate etiquette when calling on elected officials, and more, all bundled with words of encouragement and appreciation.

Congressional staffers, including the new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, who addressed the entire AACTE/KDP group, were interested in hearing our thoughts and reactions to current bills and proposed regulations.

Our discussions focused on the following legislative issues:  encouraging continued funding for Title II of the Higher Education Act, particularly the Teacher Quality Partnership grants; support for a bill currently in the HELP committee that addresses induction and mentoring and embedded professional development; and the consideration of integrating education for sustainability.

The Department of Education is expected to release new Teacher Preparation Regulations in July, which is a time when many people are traveling or out of the office. Those in attendance asked Under Secretary Mitchell to consider a 60-day comment period to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback on the regulations.

As we look to the start of a new academic year, the Public Policy Committee and State Delegates will be working together to help KDP members get more engaged in policy discussions at both the state and federal level.

Politicians want and need to hear from you. A key message from members of Congress that we all need to remember is “if there is a void in input on education policy, it will be filled by someone” – and that ‘someone’ needs to be members of the KDP community. We must make sure that our voices are heard on what’s best for educators and the students we serve.

Look for upcoming messages and resources from the Public Policy Committee about how you can be involved and share your thoughts!