Reed Launches Effort to Improve Environmental Education and Reconnect Students with Nature
PROVIDENCE, RI -- U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today was joined by elementary school students from Providence and East Greenwich, the Mayor, and environmental officials, as well as Loki the hawk and Teco the owl at the Roger Williams Park Zoo's new Feinstein Junior Scholar Wetlands Trail, to unveil The No Child Left Inside Act, a new $100 million a year initiative to strengthen environmental education programs and reconnect more kids with nature.
Reed's No Child Left Inside legislation would authorize $500 million over five years to states that create environmental literacy plans to train teachers in environmental education and operate environmental education programs.
"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," said Senator Reed, a member of both the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending on education programs. "This legislation will free up critical funding for environmental education to inspire the next generation of environmentally conscious citizens."
Environmental education experts say that Senator Reed's legislation is needed to undo some of the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind law, which went into effect five years ago. That law's strong focus on reading and math has led many teachers to reduce the time spent on environmental topics that may not be tested on assessment exams.
"Unfortunately, environmental education has not been a priority under the Bush Administration, but this legislation will begin to change that," said Reed. "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."
The No Child Left Inside Act would authorize $100 million a year in federal funding for states to train their teachers in the field of environmental education; support outdoor environmental education programs for children; and develop model environmental education curriculum. To receive funding, states must develop environmental literacy plans to make sure students have a solid understanding of our planet and its precious natural resources.
"This legislation will help America maintain a well-rounded and highly educated workforce - which is why this legislation is also supported by CEOs and business leaders," noted Reed.
The event took place in Roger Williams Park Zoo's new Feinstein Junior Scholar Wetlands Trail, a haven for native plants and wildlife and a living classroom that connects kids with the natural world around them. The Zoo and other member organizations of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA), including Save The Bay, are lending critical support to Senator Reed's efforts to increase environmental education not only in Rhode Island, but across the country.
Rhode Island environmental groups that support Reed's No Child Left Inside initiative are Apeiron Institute for Environmental Living, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Environmental Education Association, Rhode Island Zoological Society/Roger Williams Park Zoo, and Save The Bay.
Over 100 other leading environmental organizations also support the initiative, including: American Forest Federation/Project Learning Tree, American Recreation Coalition, American Sail Training Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Arbor Day Foundation, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Council for Environmental Education (Project WILD, Flying WILD), Earth Day Network, Ecological Society of America, National Audubon Society, National Council for Science and the Environment, National Education Association, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, National Recreation and Park Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, The Conservation Fund, The Wilderness Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Youth Service America.