Obama Administration Takes Historic Steps for Sustainability EducationFebruary 11th, 2010
The Obama administration has taken an historic step toward environmental sustainability: for the first time ever, the President's 2011 budget has called out as a priority promoting healthy schools for all children and integrating environmental literacy into U.S. Department of Education programs.
It is reassuring to know that our President recognizes the urgent need to educate American children about the natural world. As Senator Jack Reed (RI) noted, "Environmental education can help raise student achievement in other core subjects like math and science. This is a smart investment in our children's future and the future of our planet."
Environmental literacy has never been included in the Department of Education budget before, but the President, working with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, seeks to fund it in 2011 through the "Well-Rounded Education" program. The new funding should lead to greater incorporation of environmental education into school curricula throughout the nation. Education and environmental experts believe that students who receive high quality environmental education will be better prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, including developing clean technologies and competing in a global economy.
Healthy kids learn better, so there's reason to celebrate the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency budget, which includes an increase in funds for states and communities to promote healthier school environments and to strengthen EPA's work with the Department of Education. This funding will result in greater technical support, outreach, and better organization and coordination of existing federal school programs that address school health and environmental issues such as asthma, school siting, energy use, indoor air quality, and integrated pest management. Funds are also included to address air pollution in at-risk communities. These historic steps have the potential to make a positive impact on student health and achievement for decades to come.
"We applaud the Obama Administration for taking these important steps to include environmental literacy as part of its "Well-Rounded Education" budget, and for supporting the Healthy Schools Initiative," says Deborah Moore, Executive Director of Green Schools Initiative. "Our children deserve green schools that support their health and inspire their creativity and critical thinking about the world around them -- these are keys to building our green economy and a sustainable future." Green Schools Initiative will keep you informed as funding from these programs becomes available as the budget process moves forward.
Tell the Department of Education That You Support "No Child Left Inside"
The U.S. Department of Education is working on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, aka, No Child Left Behind), and there are critical actions that must be taken now. Ensure that the bill includes provisions for pre-K through Grade 12 environmental and outdoor education as outlined in the No Child Left Inside Act, sponsored by Senator Reed and Congressman Sarbanes.
The Department of Education is requesting comments on ESEA as they begin drafting new language for the bill. DOE officials have advised us that the comments they receive are being reviewed and carefully considered.