County schools to cut environmental education programs

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) has proposed cutting the last remaining environmental educator in the school system after 18 years of groundbreaking programs. Ann Strozyk, the award-winning educator in this role, delivers hands-on programs to 15,000 students every year through a cost-effective partnership with
the Howard County Conservancy.


What will happen if this position is cut?

Without school system support of environmental education, the Conservancy will be unable to offer schools hands-on field experiences for students. At an absolutely critical time for our environment, these incredibly important programs that provide science education, inspire future stewards and build green careers will be decimated.

Hands-on learning is critical. While students can learn about the environment in textbooks, getting outside to identify stream life, discover biodiversity and collect and analyze data is priceless. Research is clear that when students spend time outside, depression and anxiety decrease and academic performance improves.

The Conservancy has leveraged the existing HCPSS partnership to secure an additional $1.2 million+ in grants to support Howard County students over the last five years. This includes money for science equipment, teacher training and bus transportation. With no environmental education program at HCPSS, this funding will cease.


Howard County - we can do better than this proposal to gut environmental education in our county.


How does Howard compare to other counties?

The HCPSS investment in environmental education is currently one teacher, dramatically less than other counties, despite being one of the most well-resourced counties in the state and country. This proposed cut is for one teacher, the only school system environmental educator, so an entire – critically important – program area will be cut.

Nearly all nearby school systems own and operate (see map) environmental education centers – fully staffed with school system funding for dedicated environmental education teachers, paraeducators and facility staff. In fact, Prince George’s County Public Schools just provided $15 million to EXPAND their environmental education center, on top of the $2.6 million school system dollars they already spend each year on environmental education.
The first budget hearing is January 25th at the Board of Education meeting. Board members want to hear from the community about budget priorities.

We need you to act quickly: Show up wearing green, testify and reach out to the Howard County Board of Education, your networks and elected officials:
• The Howard County Board of Education (boe@hcpss.org)
• Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (cball@howardcountymd.gov)
• The Howard County Council (councilmail@howardcountymd.gov)



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Photo credits: Header by Photo by Erica Wilcox