Monday, July 16, 2007

No Child Left Inside - Time Out for a Political Announcement

Last week, Congressman John Sarbanes introduced the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 to the House Committee on Education and Labor (House Bill 3036). This bill urges Congress to include critical environmental education measures in the No Child Left Behind law.

Section 2 of the bill presents the following findings.
  1. Environmental education is essential for--

    • (A) enhancing student learning and problem solving skills, especially in science;
    • (B) creating responsible and engaged citizens; and
    • (C) producing graduates who are prepared to address the challenges, adjustments, and opportunities that will be present in the life and the workforce of the 21st century due to threats to human health, economical development, biological diversity, and national security arising from environmental stresses.

  2. Studies documenting the increasing indicators of nature-deficit disorder show that time spent out of the classroom for learning during the school day is critical to the intellectual, emotional, and physical health of children and that providing students with quality opportunities to directly experience the natural world can improve students' overall academic performance, self-esteem, personal responsibility, community involvement, personal health (including child obesity issues), and understanding of nature.

  3. Fewer and fewer students are becoming involved in important environmental education courses, classwork, and field investigations as an unintended consequence of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.).
The language in the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 recommends including environmental education in NCLB in these ways.
  • Provide incentives for state educational agencies to create a State Environmental Literacy Plan for integrating environmental education into their K-12 curriculum to ensure that graduates are environmentally literate.
  • Provide funding to help states, schools systems, and environmental education partners to implement the State Environmental Literacy Plan.
Since the inception of NCLB, most schools have curtailed or eliminated environmental education programs to allow them to focus on meeting the standards in reading and math. The reauthorization of NCLB could provide for positive change in this area.

You can learn more about this bill at No Child Left Inside.

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