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From the Editor

Shifting from “Green” to “Sustainable”

School districts step up to the plate.

As we at DA sorted out what to title this month’s special section, it was time to really understand the difference between the terms “green” and “sustainable,” two of the more popular buzzwords these days. I found the best explanation on, a unique blog based on social media and green living: Green is a “microconcept” measured on a scale from dirty to clean, or toxic to nontoxic. One person’s green can be another person’s not green. Sustainability, on the other hand, is a macroconcept that applies to entire systems—which brings us to our focus on sustainable schools.

The move from green hype to schoolwide systems is what we highlight in this issue.

With the high cost of energy and an increased awareness of environmental issues, district leaders across the nation have embraced greener principles and, most importantly, the application of these principles to sustainable systems. The move from green hype to schoolwide systems is what we highlight in this issue. We feature districtwide trends introducing environmentally sound programs and energy-saving technologies, healthier lunch programs and creative hands-on curriculum efforts, all providing some 21st-century modeling for our students to live by. Is there any better way to send the message home? Regardless of whether this trend is driven by altruistic reasons, the need to reduce costs, governmental pressures, or student initiatives, the result is a major shift to sustainability.

If you haven’t already viewed The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute video about the discrepancy of how economics is taught in traditional textbooks versus “planned obsolescence” and “the golden arrow of consumption,” which characterize real-life economics, take a look. Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace employee, created this video, which has won widespread support as a valid piece of curriculum.

This month we also start an addition to our Update section with The Stimulus Monitor, an ongoing guide to help administrators understand the nuances of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This issue includes answers to some questions we asked administrators about the stimulus plan and their districts, as well as a report on a joint application for “Race to the Top” funds being planned by officials from Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.


Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor