On Dec. 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA includes language that, for the first time, supports opportunities to provide students with environmental education and hand-on, field-based learning experiences. Under the new bill, environmental education is eligible for funding through federal grants to the states. Our friends at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) worked with congressional champions of the bipartisan No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) to secure this crucial language in the bill.
“Environmental education can have a positive impact on kids’ health, academic achievement, and understanding of the natural world. This bill represents a major step forward, giving schools new opportunities to engage students through environmental education. I first introduced NCLI back in 2007, and since that time, thanks to the advocacy of coalitions and organizations like NAAEE, we’ve made real progress in elevating the importance of environmental education and getting more schools to develop outdoor, hands on learning as part of their curriculum. And that has a tremendous benefit for students and our communities,” stated U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the chief Senate sponsor of the NCLI Act.
Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-3) sponsored NCLI in the House. “ESSA is a tremendous victory for advocates of environmental education who’ve fought long and hard to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards with outdoor, hands-on learning programs,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing a comprehensive education reform package that has immense benefits for students, teachers and schools across the country.”