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Public Statements

No Child Left Inside Act of 2008

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 18, 2008)

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Mr. WELCH of Vermont. My amendment is quite simple.

It would add municipalities to the list of entities eligible for the National Capacity Environmental Education Grant Program. Keep in mind, anyone who is going to be successful has to go through a competitive grant process.

The reason for that is the municipalities are the ones that at the grassroots level oftentimes provide these services. Obviously, we all live in towns or in cities, and this environmental education initiative outlined in the legislation is being offered, in many cases, by small towns in rural America and in large towns elsewhere. In fact, in smaller towns, it's the local Parks and Recreation Department. That's a subset, obviously, of the municipality and who is the ultimate intended beneficiary of this opportunity. It's the Parks and Rec Department that takes the lead in providing environmental education to our kids. This amendment would allow those agencies to participate.

According to the National Park and Recreation Association, an entity that has endorsed this amendment, municipal park systems are the best and most logical partners for schools and for other educational agencies across the country to develop effective environmental education programs.

In my own State of Vermont, environmental education programs are offered by almost every town during their summer programming. The programs are great for the kids in helping them appreciate the environment and the value of protecting it. The town of Colchester, for instance, boasts four summer environmental education offerings. Killington, Vermont did a survey, and it revealed that the majority of citizens thinks their town should offer through parks and recreation such an education program.

Such programs are committed to providing diverse, accessible and effective environmental education at the grassroots. This amendment will bolster these efforts by assuring properly trained staff and the best materials. Tested instruction strategies are available for and are integrated into environmental programming.

I ask my colleagues to support this amendment and the underlying bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WELCH of Vermont. I appreciate the concerns expressed by the gentleman from California, but I think I can assure him that the definition won't dilute the program, and there are two reasons.

One, the term ``municipality'' does have a legal definition. It's a city, basically, or an entity as defined in the code of the applicable State. In Vermont--and I think this is pretty much true around the country--you have subdivisions. You have the Parks and Rec Department. The point here is that it is the Parks and Rec Department that is oftentimes doing this kind of work.

So what this amendment would do, I think, is it would achieve that goal of local control and delivery at the most elemental and local of levels, which I think is an objective that the gentleman from California and I share.

The other thing that gives me some reassurance--and it may not quite reach the level of assurance that the gentleman from California looks to--is that the grants will be competitive, so there will be a process that applicants have to go through, whether they're a municipality or whether they're any other entity making an application. It will be reviewed by an impartial authority. Let's certainly hope that's the case. Then the merit-based decision will be that this application looks like it's going to help a lot of kids and be effective, and it will be granted on that basis, not on the name of the applicant or on that of the particular entity.

So I really do appreciate the concerns that were offered. I have more comfort with the constraints of the definition of ``municipality,'' apparently, than does my friend from California, but ultimately, the backstop here is that independent review that is going to be the final arbiter of who gets these competitive opportunities.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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