by Katie Cleary of Peace4Animals
Imagine a world where your eight-year-old brother, sister, daughter, or son is able to explain exactly how they are going to save an endangered species or eliminate their carbon footprint. This is something powerful — arguably more powerful than how quickly they can fill out a multiplication table. If we can change the system to mandate core environmental courses in our schools, we can save our world from environmental degradation and make our planet a healthier place. The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) of 2011 would help address this.
Today, environmental education is a shadow of what it could be, and we need to take it to the next level. Such curriculum should not only take place in the classroom, but should get students outdoors and teach them solutions to environmental problems in their own lives and communities. After all, what our kids hear and see in school is what they know best. What they learn becomes embedded in their language, and is reflected in their actions towards the people and animals around them.
We need to focus on topics like land preservation — protecting our wildlife from urban sprawl so they can thrive in their natural habitats. Most communities forget that we built our lives where wild animals were born and bred; we need to share this land and co-exist with them. Because wildlife does not have a voice to express this, it is crucial that we teach this reality to children across the country, so it is common knowledge for our children.
Another topic this curriculum would cover is the proper care and compassion for our domestic animals. In this day and age, it is sickening to see atrocious acts of violence performed by kids and teens towards animals. It is vital to teach respect towards our domestic companions.
Other lessons would focus on adoption, spaying and neutering and fostering animals. Still others would emphasize keeping wildlife in the wild, highlighting what is right in a natural habitat and what is not right for the home. Reduce, reuse and recycle topics would also be stressed more than they are now. Trash polluting our oceans and land is actually one of the biggest causes of environmental corruption. Natural foods and eco-friendly products will be promoted. Getting out of the classroom is also crucial; children will regularly participate in beach and state park clean-ups, tree planting, and other eco-friendly activities.
Ultimately, our kids will more fully realize that every little step would help to repair what has already been done to our world.
NCLI is a bi-partisan bill, and would assist states in creating stronger environmental literacy programs for K-12 students.
Already approved by over 2,000 organizations, NCLI is not lacking in support. Here is what the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has to say about how this bill would change our country:
If Congress adopts the NCLI proposals, a substantially strengthened Elementary and Secondary Education Act will include:
- Funding by the state level to train teachers to deliver high quality Environmental Education and utilize the local environment as an extension of the classroom.
- Incentives for states to develop State Environmental Literacy Plans to insure that every student is prepared to understand the environmental challenges of the future.
- Encouragement for teachers, administrators, and school systems to make time and resources available for environmental education for all students.
- Environmental Education will be integrated across core subject areas.
We can only change this with the help of your signature. If reversing our environmental spiral is as vital to you as it is to our natural world, please join us and support this petition so we can present Congress with one million signatures.
Help plant the seeds for a greener future, where children and communities can receive the education they deserve and come up with innovative ways to protect this magnificent planet we share with so many beautiful creatures.