Tell the Senate HELP Committee to Include NCLI in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. VIEW TEMPLATE LETTER.

Congress is moving swiftly to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and it is critical that members of the Coalition make their voices heard about the need to include NCLI’s environmental and outdoor education policies and programs for every child in the reauthorized bill.

The Senate House, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee (HELP) is asking stakeholders to submit comments on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by May 7, 2010. Please take a few moments today to email the HELP Committee at and let them know that you support the inclusion of the No Child Left Inside Act (S.866) in the reauthorized ESEA.

Some tips for submitting your comments:
  • Send your comments in the format of a letter on organizational letterhead.
  • Personalize your comments with information about your organization—size and type, interest in environmental education, specific progress in your state/region. VIEW TEMPLATE LETTER.
  • Send a copy of your comments to Sarah Bodor,, so that we can follow-up on your comments in subsequent meetings with Committee staff and other members of Congress.

NEWS (Feb. 2010)  The No Child Left Inside Act is now listed as one of four key pieces of legislation in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (a.k.a. No Child Left Behind). Read details on the Education & Labor Committee Web Site. The NCLI Coalition cheered President Obama's budget as a historic moment, noting that environmental literacy has been included in the U.S. Department of Education budget for the very first time.

Unintended Consequences of "No Child Left Behind"

Congress's No Child Left Behind Act, enacted in 2002, requires stringent math and language arts testing. An unintended consequence was that in order to reach test score goals many schools -- including schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts -- put math and language arts ahead of other academics, including environmental education. Especially hard-hit have been field trips.

Save The Bay felt this shift dramatically:

  • A middle school special education teacher was not allowed to keep her field experience with Save The Bay in September because it was during the first few weeks of school and the principal banned all field trips during that time to prepare for testing. The teacher rescheduled in October and the principal continued to give the teacher a hard time about coming to the program.
  • A teacher from a middle school had to cancel both of her Save The Bay class field trips due to a lack of principal support. While we were able to provide some in-class programming for this teacher, the principal continues to be unsupportive.
  • Our Bay Partners program (comprehensive in-class programming for elementary schools) has been rescheduled numerous times in our partner schools due to testing.

This conflict comes at a time when federal funding for environmental education is declining. The unintended result of No Child Left Behind coupled with lack of funding has made it harder for Rhode Island and Massachusetts children to learn more about the environment and how to be better Bay & watershed stewards. In fundamental ways, this puts the Bay's future is at risk.

An Opportunity

This year, Congress must reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. Seizing this opportunity, Senator Jack Reed has introduced the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 -- legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America’s classrooms. Senator Reed’s bill would provide:

  • Federal funding to states to train teachers in environmental education and to operate model environmental education programs.
  • Funding to states that create environmental literacy plans and would re-establish the Office of Environmental Education within the U.S. Department of Education to oversee critical environmental education activities.

One reason Senator Reed sponsored this legislation is that he recognizes and appreciates the value of environmental education resources such as Save The Bay's Explore The Bay program.

“From saving the Bay to confronting the challenges of climate change, we need to prepare the next generation to tackle and overcome some very complicated environmental challenges,” said Senator Reed, a member of both the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal spending on education programs.  "Teaching children about the world around them should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools. This legislation will free up critical funding for environmental education to inspire the next generation of environmentally conscious citizens.

“Unfortunately, environmental education has not been a priority under the Bush Administration, but this legislation will begin to change that. I know that most Rhode Islanders, and Americans nationwide, want their kids to be environmentally literate and I’m proud to sponsor this important legislation.It is important to give students a hands-on understanding of their environment. It teaches them to be good conservationists and good citizens and can have added health benefits for children too,” concluded Reed. 

Reed’s legislation is supported by a national coalition of environmentalists and educators working to give new emphasis to environmental education in America’s classrooms, including: Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, Save The Bay, Rhode Island Environmental Education Association, Rhode Island Zoological Society/Roger Williams Park Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, Audubon, the National Education Association, and the National Science Teachers Association.

Victory in Washington!

NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE Act Approved by House of Representatives

September 18, 2008: Environmental education in the United States took a major step forward this morning. The House of Representatives approved the No Child Left Inside Act by a vote of 293 to 109—and with significant bipartisan support.

Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes introduced the legislation that strengthens and expands environmental education in America's classrooms and reconnects children with nature.

The House vote brings tremendous momentum to a broad grassroots effort promoting environmental education. The strong vote of support brings us one step closer to improving teacher training in environmental education, helping states develop environmental literacy plans, and expanding America’s capacity to develop environmental education programs for our children.

Save The Bay has been an active participant in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, a grassroots coalition with 745 member organizations representing more than 40 million Americans who value environmental education. Thank you for your support for environmental education. We appreciate your commitment to our Bay, our environment, and our children. With continued grassroots support, we are optimistic that the No Child Left Inside Act will become law.

NEWS (July 21, 2008):  Today we reached a milestone as the No Child Left Inside Coalition attracted its 500th member organization. This milestone comes at a critical time — we are awaiting final word that the full House of Representatives will vote on the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 next week! You can do your part by spreading the word about this Coalition and contacting your representatives, asking them to support the Act.

Formed only 18 months ago, today, NCLI member organizations represent more than 22 million Americans. These groups are focused on a variety of areas – the environment, education, outdoor recreation, businesses, public health and science. While they have different interests, they share a commitment to improving how we teach kids about their natural world.

To see the complete list of our members or to find out more about the No Child Left Inside Act, visit


NEWS (June 19, 2008):  Important progress today as the House Education and Labor Committee approved an amended version of the No Child Left Inside Act. The bill received strong bipartisan support and was approved by a vote of 37 to 8. The legislation approved by the committee, while amended from its original form, preserves many key goals, including:

  • New grants for teacher training in environmental education and grants for states to use to expand the capacity of environmental education programs.
  • Incentives to states to enact environmental literacy plans to ensure that all graduates are environmentally literate.

All good for The Bay Community!