Environmental Education Boosted by House Committee Vote
Last August 2007, Kenny summed up for us the pros, challenges and hopes wrapped-up in the No Child Left Inside Act before the U.S. House of Representatives. An important short-coming of the proposed law used to be that the bill did not include any funding to fulfill its requirement, however with the recent House vote on June 18, that is the case no longer. The House Education and Labor Committee approved an amended version of the No Child Left Inside Act with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 37 to 8. The Act (HR 3036) as approved by the committee, while amended from its original form, preserves many key goals, including the creation of new funding for training teachers in environmental education and for expanding environmental education programs. The legislation would also provide new funding to states that create environmental literacy plans, which will ensure that all graduates are environmentally literate, and extends the National Environmental Education Act. The bill will go later this summer to a vote in the full House of Representatives which is this year required to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act in which HR 3036 is bundled.Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island who introduced and sponsors this legislation is a member of both the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending on education programs. Upon introduction of the bill, he expressed his recognition and appreciation of the value of environmental education resources such as Save The Bay's Explore The Bay program:
From saving the Bay to confronting the challenges of climate change, we need to prepare the next generation to tackle and overcome some very complicated environmental challenges. Teaching children about the world around them should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools. This legislation will free up critical funding for environmental education to inspire the next generation of environmentally conscious citizens.The No Child Left Inside Coalition & Campaign has a great video, Get 'em Outside, that is nicely photographed and assembled with good sounds bites providing information about what kids are learning in the great outdoors as well as showing candid shots of young people experiencing and connecting with nature. These moments that let you see children taking perhaps some of their first steps toward forging a lifelong relationship, or dare we say it romance, with nature are fun, touching and thrilling. As visual mediamakers, we can tell you that bits like this are not easy to fake.
Unfortunately, environmental education has not been a priority under the Bush Administration, but this legislation will begin to change that. I know that most Rhode Islanders, and Americans nationwide, want their kids to be environmentally literate and I’m proud to sponsor this important legislation. It is important to give students a hands-on understanding of their environment. It teaches them to be good conservationists and good citizens and can have added health benefits for children too.