Congress takes another shot at No Child Left Inside
Richard Louv’s 2005 book Last Child in the Woods introduced the phrase “nature deficit disorder” into our lexicon. Louv argued that kids spend much less time outdoors, and, as a result, not only fail to develop an appreciation for and connection to nature (and, by extension, the importance of environmental challenges), but also suffer from health problems such as obesity, attention deficit disorder, and even depression to a greater degree.
For several years, the US Congress has tried to act on Louv’s findings, and pass legislation aimed at incorporating outdoor activities and environmental education into public school curricula. After failures in 2007 and 2008, Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) are taking another shot at the No Child Left Inside Act (H.R. 2054 and S. 866). Introduced on Earth Day in both houses, the bill, if enacted, would
- require states to develop K-12 environmental literacy plans
- offer grants for professional development in environmental education
- also offer grants for curriculum development and research
At this point, these bills have only been referred to the appropriate committees, but with more progressive majorities in Congress, and President Obama‘s emphasis on “green” economic development, there may be a better chance that such legislation gets passed this time around. Sponsors are heavily Democratic; Republican critics have described the bills as “wasteful spending and as a way to spread environmental propaganda through the public school system.”