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No Child Left Inside

September 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Most of the legislation the House will be dealing with this week is fluff, but there’s at least one interesting bill scheduled for later in the week – the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008.

The bill would authorize $100 million a year to state education departments and non-profits to develop and implement “environmental literacy” plans for grades K-12. Here’s how Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the bill’s lead sponsor, explains the need for his bill:

>Outdoor education helps give students a well-rounded educational experience with a deeper understanding of science, which is one of the reasons so many CEOs and business leaders support the Reed-Sarbanes No Child Left Inside Act. Yet, today, many schools are being forced to scale back environmental programs and cancel hands on scientific experiences. Teachers and principals point to two factors behind this troubling trend: the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act, and a lack of funding for environmental programs.

Under the bill, each state would develop their own environmental literacy plan and submit it to the United States Department of Education for approval and funding. A recent Associated Press article explains that No Child Left Inside is a response to a nation-wide push to bring back outdoor field trips, even though tax revenues are declining in most states. “We’ve got this growing crisis on our hands where we’ve got these kids magnetized to the computer,” said John Griffin, head of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, which manages state parks. “This idea is really catching fire all over the country. … We want our parks to be not just parks but learning laboratories for kids.”

The bill lays out a few core objectives that should be part of any plan: preparing children to understand and address the major environmental challenges facing the United States, increasing field experiences as part of the regular school curriculum, creating programs that contribute to healthy life styles through outdoor recreation and sound nutrition, and enhancing professional development of teachers that improves their knowledge and skill in teaching environmental issues.

Here’s a video explaining some of the basic concepts behind environmental education:




To me, the most appealing thing about a hands-on, outdoor education is (as the video says) that it gives kids power and helps them realize they can do things that have a real impact on the world. I’m curious to know what you all think about this – not just the value of outdoor education, but also of setting aside federal money for this specific purpose.

(Flickr photo by Camp ASCCA used under a CC license)

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Comments

  • Anonymous 09/09/2008 12:49am

    I think as long as we are broke we should probably quit spending money.

  • Anonymous 09/09/2008 4:11am

    i agree…..stop the money and they will stop the spending…

  • Dem02020 09/09/2008 4:26am

    At the risk of sounding critical of good intentions, I think Congressional Democrats (especially in the House) have a blindspot to how much they’re alienating a significant portion of the American taxpayer… and I think that in turn, this significant portion of the American People, who might otherwise be naturally drawn to the Democratic Party on labor and consumer issues (People’s Issues), are instead antagonistic to it: for how can labor and consumer concerns (People’s Concerns) co-exist with the wasteful spending of money? They cannot, and so this sizable portion of the American People (the American taxpayer) in turn puts Democratics in a blindspot of their own… and it’s too bad, because Democrats could truly be a National People’s Party, were they to just cease alienating so many American People, with their many dreamy schemes to waste the American taxpayer’s money.

  • RDFrench 09/09/2008 7:12am

    Interesting finding this. Just thought I’d add a little clarification.

    Thanks for using the photo from Camp ASCCA. Gotta love that CC license.

    For the record, Camp ASCCA does do a great deal of outdoor recreation and environmental education. It should also be noted, as our photo is associated with this story, Camp ASCCA does not receive any federal funding.

    As a nonprofit Easter Seals affiliate, we are responsible for raising all of our own funds. Details here: campascca.org/give No, not a pitch, but an explanation will be found on that page.

    The idea of federal funding aside, the one thing that is often lost in this debate is how today, over 70% of donated dollars go to large healthcare/medical organizations (mostly research based, unlike Camp ASCCA) and large universities.

    This leaves all the smaller organizations fighting over the remaining < 30% of donated funds. Lots of these smaller nonprofits are not only suffering, but many are disappearing. Ten years ago? There are more than 50 facilities similar to Camp ASCCA. Today? Less than half are still open.

    For our primary service audience, children and adults with disabilities, that is a sad reality. Services for people with disabilities are getting pounded in this economy.

    Our year-round school based environmental education programs (day camps and weekend camps) are also suffering. Schools just don’t have the funds to send their kids. If the gov’t doesn’t step up, then private donors need to, or all these programs are in peril. Just my take on the issue.

  • Comm_reply
    donnyshaw 09/09/2008 7:26am

    Hey RDFrench,

    Thanks for letting us use your photo with the Creative Commons license. Besides the value of shared content, I love how the CC license tends to connect people who are sharing ideas, information and art in non-commercial settings.

    Glad you found this post and were able to give us your inside perspective on the current funding situation for environmental education programs.

    Best of luck!

  • Anonymous 09/20/2008 11:56am

    REGULATION AND DEREGULATION

    Guess what, deregulation was partly to blame. And once he’s in office, Obama should put stopgap measures in place to regulate the financial markets. But let’s face it, the Good Ol’ USA can weather ANY financial storm as long as our financial house is in order. But, our financial house i WAY out of order.

    USA SOLD TO CHINA BY GEORGE BUSH AND JOHN McCAIN

    WE ARE SPENDING $5,000 per SECOND = $12 BILLION DOLLARS PER MONTH BORROWED FROM CHINA TO FINANCE THE IRAQ WAR FOR OIL!!! If we didn’t have that debt, we could weather any financial storm. Here’s a link for George Bush, Karl Rove, DICK Cheney and John McCain, its called “Debt-a-holic’s Anonymous”

    http://www.destroydebt.com/blogs/p/232-debtaholics-anonymous-6-steps-to-becoming-debt-sober.html

    Somehow, with this HUGE NATIONAL 700 Billion dollar debt, George, Dick, Karl and John have managed to become MULIT-MULTI-MULTI-MILLIONAIRES!!!!

    AND THEY HAVE LEFT THE REST OF US TAXPAYERS HOLDING THE BAG!!! WHAT A BUNCH OF SLIMEBALLS!!! OUR GOOD AMERICAN BOYS AND GIRLS ARE FIGHTING AND DYING IN IRAQ SO THAT GEORGE, DICK, KARL AND JOHNNIE CAN BECOME RICH BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS, AND AT THE COST OF OVER 4,000 AMERICAN TROOPS’ LIVES. ASK THE DEAD, THEIR FAMILIES AND THEIR CHILDREN IF THE OIL PROFITS WERE WORTH THEIR DEATHS.

    The republicans have fought for deregulation and screamed about lowering the taxes for the Rich. How can the USA be expected to lower taxes when the GANG running the country spend money like drunken sailor’s???

    Can we PLEASE stop calling the republican party “conservative”? My grandmother and grandfather were conservative Democrats, they were CAREFUL WITH THEIR MONEY. The republican party is the TRUE PARTY OF “SPENDING LIBERALLY” and not being conservative.

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