NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 18, 2008)
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Mrs. BACHMANN. Mr. Chairman, today, the House will consider H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside Act. I rise in strong opposition to this legislation.
First of all, H.R. 3036 continues our Nation down the ill-fated road of shifting control of school curricula away from the parents and teachers and local school boards who best know what their children need into the hands of Federal Government and its one-size-fits-all approach. To best serve our children's educational needs, local school boards need flexibility to target resources where they are needed most--from school construction and class size reduction efforts to higher teacher salaries and technology in the classroom. The needs of individual school districts are dynamic and complex. They are not homogenous and are most certainly not best understood by bureaucrats in Washington.
I fervently believe that parents and teachers and local school boards know best how to educate our children, and it is time for Congress to stop removing them further and further from the equation. Congress must move back down the path to control, accountability, and authority at a local level for education. H.R. 3036 leads us away from this crucial goal.
Furthermore, while I agree it is important to promote conservation and environmental literacy, especially as America faces a crippling energy crisis, I do not agree that public school is the place to do it. H.R. 3036 would simply add another layer of bureaucracy and Federal mandates to our Nation's already overburdened schools, displacing important educational building blocks with questionable environmental education programs. At a time when American test scores continue to lag behind our global counterparts, can we honestly say that we need less time for the fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic? Church groups, scouting, extracurricular organizations, and the family promote conservation, love of and respect for the outdoors, and environmental messages daily. Let the teachers teach; let parents instill values.
Finally, let us not forget that Congress has already allotted funds for environmental literacy through an Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, grant program. Since 1992, that program has allocated over $40 million, or roughly $2.5 million per year. H.R. 3036 would spend an additional $14 million to create an additional grant program administered by a whole new executive branch agency, the Department of Education. Can there be any question that this represents an expansion of the Federal bureaucracy, a duplication of efforts, and a wholly irresponsible distribution of taxpayer dollars?
The No Child Left Inside Act represents a step in the wrong direction, adding the weight of increased Federal bureaucracy to an already sinking educational outlook. Forcing local school districts to direct scarce resources away from core curricula to serve a political agenda will only further suppress the academic performance of America's next generation. I urge my colleagues to oppose this legislation.
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