Due to the heavy focus on math and reading testing in our nation’s schools as a result of the No Child Left Behind law, many students are no longer being taught basic environmental education. Teachers, who previously taught students the importance of clean air and water and the threat of global warming, are now focusing their efforts strictly on issues that will be tested, and the environment isn’t on the list.
The “teaching to the test” requirements have also excluded the need for field trips to nature centers or other outdoor activities, which have the potential of opening young minds and eyes. U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) want to re-energize environmental education in our schools.
They have introduced the No Child Left Inside Act in the House and Senate, which would provide new federal funding for environmental education and give states incentives to improve environmental instruction. The No Child Left Behind law is due to be reauthorized in Congress this year and Sen. Reed and Rep. Sarbanes are working to have the provisions of the No Child Left Inside Act incorporated into that legislation.
Provisions of the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 include:
- The requirement that states seeking environmental education funding under No Child Left Behind to develop and submit a K-12 plan to ensure that high school graduates are environmentally literate. States receiving such funds would submit status reports on how those plans are being implemented.
- The provision for new funding for states to develop, improve and advance environmental education standards.
- New funding to train qualified teachers to teach environmental education courses and programs.
“At a time when major environmental challenges face the nation and the world, it is crucial that our next generation of students receive the education and tools they need to face these challenges head on,” said (Organization Director). “Many of us can remember our first school field trip to a nature center and how those experiences shaped who we are today; it’s essential that we share these values with our children.”
Also of tremendous concern are the overwhelming statistics of childhood obesity in the U.S., and it should be no surprise to parents and teachers that reduced activity and exercise, as well as eating a healthy diet are to blame. The Get ‘Em Outside, No Child Left Inside Act will help deal with the problems of obesity in children, and help educate our kids in a way that helps develop and maintain their interest in learning.
More than two dozen groups are strongly supporting the No Child Left Inside Act, including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Audubon and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The National Education Association is also standing behind the bill.
Both the House and Senate are expected to move forward with re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind law in September. To show your support for environmental education and the inclusion of the No Child Left Inside Act, contact your Congressperson and the Chairs of the House Education and Labor Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
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