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Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside Act. This legislation, introduced by Representative JOHN SARBANES, would provide sorely needed assistance to States, elementary and secondary schools and others to help teach our children about the environment and instill within them an appreciation and sense of stewardship for our planet.
The case for extending and enhancing environmental education is quite clear. Several recent studies indicate that students perform better in science, reading, math and social studies, when environmental education is integrated into the core curricula. Indeed, Hollywood Elementary School, located in Maryland's 5th Congressional District, was part of an intensive study by the State Education and Environment Roundtable published in 1998 that documented how 40 schools in 12 States achieved remarkable results by implementing an environmental education program. The study also found that environmental education increased students' enthusiasm for learning and enhanced their creative thinking skills.
Getting kids outdoors to exercise, play and experience their natural world is also an important tool to prevent childhood obesity, reduce attention deficit disorder, and address other related health problems. Research shows that kids today are spending more than 6 hours a day inside plugged in to electronics--but only minutes a day outdoors. That could have serious consequences for our children's physical and mental development.
Just as important, environmental education prepares children to be responsible stewards and citizens. We face enormous environmental challenges including global warming and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. To take on those challenges, the next generation needs a solid understanding of environmental Science.
But even though environmental education is desperately needed, for all of those reasons, our Nation has seen it go into decline. In recent years, the overall level of federal support for environmental education in both policy and funding has unfortunately been woefully inadequate.
The No Child Left Inside Act seeks to remedy this situation by providing new support and funding for environmental education in the Nation's public schools in three areas: teacher training, enhanced programs, and the development and implementation of State environmental literacy plans.
Specifically, this legislation reauthorizes the National Environmental Education Act of 1990 and authorizes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Education and Training Program. It also creates a new National Capacity Environmental Education Grant Program to be administered by the Department of Education, awarding matched grant funds to local and State educational agencies, colleges and universities, and nonprofit groups to develop curricula, disseminate information about model programs, and increase the number of environmental educators.
Our looming environmental problems demand a strong generation of scientists, researchers, public servants, and citizens. By passing this bill, we can help to build that generation and improve our children's health and quality of life at the same time.
I commend Representative SARBANES for introducing this measure and I urge my colleagues to join with me in voting for the No Child Left Inside Act.
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