A decade ago, Don Baugh had seen plenty of successful environmental education programs. As vice president of education at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, he had helped produce many of them.
But for all the success, many — if not most — students had little if any exposure to those programs in their schools.
“All the environment education that was being done was really critical and really helpful and really pushed the Bay restoration movement,” he said. “But it was not being done at the scale of the problem — the problem being an ecosystem collapse.”
When he asked school officials what it would take to truly incorporate the environment into their curriculum, their answer seemed as daunting as the problem. It would take, they told him, an act of Congress.
Environmental education wasn’t even mentioned in the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001 which established national education priorities. Further, the act required rigorous testing in core subjects like math and reading. Schools were rated based on how students did on those tests, leading them to de-emphasize other areas, including environmental education.
Baugh figured that the odds of changing the law were slim. Nonetheless, he worked with like-minded people around the nation to establish the No Child Left Inside Coalition.
The coalition tapped growing concern about children spending more time in front of television or computer screens and less time outside, contributing to problems such as childhood obesity. Today’s children have increasingly become disconnected…
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