"No Child" environmental ed bill returns
Legislation seeking to reconnect kids nationwide with nature and educate them more about the environment has resurfaced in Washington - this time with at least a trace of bipartisanship.
Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) announced they are introducing the "No Child Left Inside Act," which would provide federal assistance to states to develop and carry out environmental literacy plans. Cosponsors include Maryland's two Democratic senators, Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
Companion legislation is being reintroduced in the House, where the bill's champion, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, had tried in vain to get it passed in the last Congress.
The announcement comes shortly after Maryland's state Board of Education decided to make environmental literacy a high school graduation requirement.
A coalition of more than 2,000 environmental and other groups has thrown its support behind getting national legislation, but a lack of Republican support has stalled it so far.
“Research shows that hands-on, outdoor environmental education has a measurably positive impact not only on student achievement in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies,” Sarbanes said in a statement. He said federal help is needed because many schools have been forced by budget shortages to scale back or eliminate environmental education programs.
“This will help the American K-12 education system foster innovation and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (the ‘STEM’ fields), which is crucial to keep our workforce competitive in rapidly emerging world markets,” said Kevin Coyle, vice president for education and training at the National Wildlife Federation.
For more on the bill, go here.
(Baltimore Sun photo)