Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced legislation to expand opportunities for environmental education in schools across the country and ensure the next generation has the environmental literacy skills to secure and sustain their future.
The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with original cosponsors Representatives David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.).
Sarbanes and Reed first introduced the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act in 2007. A provision of that bill that would allow educators to access federal grants for environmental education programs was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act – signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.
This legislation would build on that success by providing the robust resources schools and teachers need to integrate environmental education and field experiences into their core academic programs. Promoting teachers’ professional development, a central goal of this legislation, would connect educators with new concepts and ideas to engage their students with environmental literacy in creative ways. Importantly, this legislation would bring a renewed focus to intensive, hands-on, outdoor learning experiences with the creation of a new Outdoor Education Pilot Program.
“Our future depends on the environmental literacy and academic achievements of the next generation,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Outdoor experiential learning is proven to boost student development and academic achievement across subject areas. I’m pleased to introduce this legislation with Senators Reed and Collins today to help schools and teachers enrich environmental education curricula, encourage students to lead healthier lives, impart them with the responsibility of environmental stewardship and empower them to meet the many challenges facing our country today.”
“Environmental education has so many positive impacts, from reconnecting kids with nature to health benefits, to boosting math and science test scores. The No Child Left Inside Act will help more states provide effective environmental education programs and integrate environmental literacy and outdoor learning into other core subjects. Ensuring students understand the natural world prepares them to navigate environmental challenges that impact our communities. Our bipartisan bill will help more kids get outside and ensure they are learning about the world around them so they can take better care of it and each other,” said Senator Reed. “Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth.”
“Maine’s abundant natural resources and pristine environment make it an idyllic place for children to grow up,” said Senator Collins. “From our verdant western mountains to our rugged coastline and all of the lakes, ponds, forests, and rivers in between, there are endless opportunities for young people to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Our bipartisan legislation would provide grants to states to integrate environmental education into their core curriculum and also establish an outdoor education pilot program so that students can learn more about the native flora, fauna, and ecosystems in their own backyard and be inspired with a lifelong love of nature.”
The No Child Left Inside Act is supported by a broad coalition of local, regional and national organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Science Teaching Association, National Wildlife Federation, North American Association for Environmental Education, Sierra Club and many more.
“Hands-on, scientific investigation outdoors helps young people develop critical thinking skills and connect with nature. That’s why the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has invested in environmental education for nearly 50 years,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President for Education Tom Ackerman. “CBF applauds Rep. Sarbanes’ dedication to ensuring students reap the many benefits of outdoor learning. We are proud to support the No Child Left Inside Act, and urge Congress to put environmental literacy at the top of the nation’s education agenda.”
"We are thrilled with the re-introduction of the No Child Left Inside Act," said Judy Braus, Executive Director of the North American Association for Environmental Education. "This bill would be transformational in providing more equitable access to environmental and outdoor learning opportunities for students. All students deserve to reap the many benefits of environmental education, which include improved academic achievement and critical thinking skills, reduced stress, and overall health and well-being.”