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House Passes "No Child Left Inside" Act

The bill will benefit local and state park and recreation agencies as entities which are eligible to receive grants for developing environmental education programs.

From National Recreation and Park Association

"This legislation will foster new partnerships in support of environmental education."

On September 18, 2008, the House of Representatives approved two important amendments in passing the No Child Left Inside Act that will directly benefit park and recreation agencies once the bill is passed into law by both chambers of Congress. The amendments, one offered by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to include municipalities as eligible entities for grants, and one offered by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), to require eligible grant entities to outline how they will partner with local park and recreation agencies to carry out the intent of the legislation, soundly place parks and recreation into the heart of this landmark bill. The NCLI Act is intended to expand environmental education and encourage teachers and schools to enhance learning and develop environmental literacy through outdoor activities and hands-on field experiences.

This bill will not be taken up by the Senate during this session of Congress. Next year, during the 111th Congress, we anticipate seeing movement on this bill with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Nonetheless, this was a very important step forward in placing parks and recreation front and center in the national effort to provide safe, healthy opportunities to kids to learn about the environment and spend time outdoors. Due to NRPA advocacy this is a significant legislative achievement for parks and recreation nationally and will provide a strong foundation for future advocacy efforts.

On June 18, the House Education and Labor Committee passed HR 3036, The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) which provides incentives for the development and enhancement of environmental education programs focused on getting children outdoors and learning about nature. However, despite strong advocacy efforts, the bill passed by the Committee does NOT designate local and state park and recreation agencies as entities which are eligible to receive grants for developing environmental education programs.

Earlier news

No Child Left Inside was originally slated to be attached to the expected 2008 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). Realizing an unlikely reauthorization of NCLB this year, sponsors of the NCLI Act decided to move it as a stand - alone bill. It was passed by the House Education and Labor Committee by a 37-8 vote As passed, the bill amends the Environmental Education and Training Program under the National Environmental and Education Act (NEEA) to bring teachers in contact with working professionals in the environmental field and promote outdoor environmental education activities as part of the regular curriculum. NCLI also provides competitive grants, through the Department of Education, to nonprofits, state education agencies, local education agencies or institutes of higher education to initiate, expand or improve environmental education programs through activities that may include "field" experiences that provide students with opportunities to directly experience nature.

For more information, go to the No Child Left Inside Coalition's website at www.NCLIcoalition.org

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