Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education

Reed, Kirk, Sarbanes, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce The No Child Left Inside Act

In an effort to reconnect more kids with nature and address critical environmental challenges, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA)  are introducing legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America’s classrooms.  The No Child Left Inside Act of 2013 will help expand environmental education in schools across the country by bringing locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools and providing federal assistance to states to develop and implement environmental literacy plans. 

            Studies show getting kids outside and teaching them about nature helps them raise achievement in other subjects and has important health benefits too.  Yet studies also show the amount of time children now spend outdoors has declined significantly in the past 20 years.  Today, many schools are being forced to scale back environmental programs and curtail outdoor activities.

            “Teaching children about the environment and giving them a hands-on opportunity to experience nature makes them smarter and healthier.  Environmental education should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools.  This legislation will help reconnect more kids with nature and raise student achievement in core subjects like math, science, and reading,” said Senator Reed.  “Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth.”

            “To prepare American students to compete in the 21st century global economy, this bill uses an innovative approach to teaching science and bringing the benefits of outdoor activity to more children,” Senator Kirk said.  “Our bill promotes hands-on learning and an integrated curriculum, while bolstering important science, technology, engineering and math education programs.”

            “Environmental education must be a national priority,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Hands-on, outdoor interaction with the environment enhances student achievement – not only in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies.  By investing in education that will grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards, we will prepare our workforce of the future to meet the many economic, environmental, and energy-related challenges our country is facing.”

            “This bill reflects a larger, overall responsibility to promote environmental stewardship across generations,” saidCongressman Fitzpatrick. “Incorporating environmental learning is a down payment on our future. Research shows that promoting a hands-on approach to teaching kids about the environment improves student achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all which directly strengthens our global competitiveness.”

            The No Child Left Inside Act would provide funds to encourage partnerships between school districts, colleges, parks, and non-profits and other community-based organizations to implement the improved curricula and provide professional development for teachers on the use of field-based, service, and experiential learning.

            Additionally, the bill will add environmental education as an authorized activity under other traditional federal grant programs and require cooperation, joint planning, and reporting by federal agencies involved in environmental education.

            NCLI is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional, and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, including the League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association, as well as hundreds of colleges, universities, businesses, and health care organizations.

            The bill numbers for the No Child Left Inside Act are S. 1306 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2702 in the U.S. House of Representatives.