In an age where political squabbling has replaced rational discourse, it is always a pleasant surprise when lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can get together to agree on an issue. Amicable dialogue is best put to use when it it serves the health of our children and the environment. Both Democrats and Republicans have shown support for the No Child Left Inside Act of 2013, a bill led by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA). The legislation will work towards developing and implementing outdoor curriculum for K-12 students across the country.
Nature has a profound effect on a child’s development and well-being. According to the No Child Left Inside Coalition, environmental education reduces stress, increases awareness, and incorporates subjects in a dynamic setting. Research has even shown that a few days of green thinking can improve science test scores by 27 percent. In addition, playing and learning outdoors can assist those suffering from ADHD, as well as combat childhood obesity.
Since the proposed federal budget for 2014 has no funding for outdoor learning across almost all national agencies, several senators and representatives have taken it upon themselves to help STEM subjects flourish. The Act will include environmental education as a subject authorized under federal grant programs. The material itself will focus on the study of the relationships and interactions of both natural and human made systems. Through partnerships with local agencies, community organizations, and other non-profits, the bill hopes to not only reconnect kids with nature, but with their neighbors as well.
“This bill reflects a larger, overall responsibility to promote environmental stewardship across generations,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Incorporating environmental learning is a down payment on our future. Research shows that promoting a hands-on approach to teaching kids about the environment improves student achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all which directly strengthens our global competitiveness.”
The NCLI Act is supported by over 50 million across the nation and organizations including the No Child Left Inside Coalition, League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association. The bills are S. 1306 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2702 in the U.S. House of Representatives.