No Child Left Inside Act seeks to remedy America's nature deficit disorder

Environmental education and outdoor learning are shown to improve student achievement in key subject areas and increase critical thinking skills.

vastateparkstaff, flickr

The No Child Left Behind Act could be getting kicked out...side.

Today’s youngsters spend a daily average of 7.5 hours in front of a computer or television, and less time outside than ever before, but thankfully there are those in Congress who want to see those numbers drop.

The latest legislative antidote to our nation's "nature deficit disorder" comes in the form of a new act that encourages states to develop K-12 environmental literacy plans that include environmental education standards and teacher training on the use of field based service and experiential learning.

Nationwide, communities can help this important bill along by urging their representatives to support the new No Child Left Behind Act.

Support environmental education and urge your own congressperson to co-sponsor the No Child Left Inside Act of 2013!

This act would amend the much debated 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

“The shift in our relationship to the natural world is startling,” says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

This shift is especially powerful, since environmental education and outdoor learning are shown to improve student achievement in key subject areas and increase critical thinking skills, motivation to learn, self esteem, conflict resolution, problem solving and classroom behavior. Time spent outside during the school day also helps promote healthy and active lifestyles that are critical to fighting rising incidences of childhood obesity.

The No Child Left Inside Act of 2013 marks the latest effort by U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) to recognize the importance of a green curriculum by making environmental education a priority in public schools.

The act  has bipartisan support and was reintroduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on July 16, 2013.

 "The ultimate effect is about more than physical or mental health. This is about something that is immeasurable. It's about our spirit, about our capacity to feel fully alive."

Photo: Leslie Science and Nature Center, flickr

If passed, the No Child Left Inside Act would set in motion changes that would provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to build a foundation for success in the green economy. The act would additionally serve as an important tool to address our nation’s “nature deficit disorder” and obesity epidemic that are threatening youth today.

“By investing in education that will grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards, we will prepare our workforce of the future to meet the many economic, environmental and energy-related challenges our country is facing,” said Congressman Sarbanes.

The Elementary and Second Education Act defines the core content that all public school students must learn to be considered proficient at each grade level. And in many school districts, this has translated into teaching and assessing only those subjects found on high stakes reading and math tests.

Many schools have sacrificed subjects like social studies, recess and environmental education, fundamentally changing the way education is delivered in this country.

The Act is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition.

"The ultimate effect is about more than physical or mental health," says Louv. "This is about something that is immeasurable. It's about our spirit, about our capacity to feel fully alive."

The Wilderness Society encourages partnerships between schools and local community organizations that will implement environmental curricula and provide professional development for teachers.

Support environmental education and urge your own congressperson to co-sponsor the No Child Left Inside Act of 2013!

Tadpole close up. Photo: mriggen, flickr

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