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Environmental education will be focus of Congressional hearings

From the No Child Left Inside Coalition

Dear Supporters of Environmental Education:

We are pleased to announce that environmental education will be the focus of a Congressional field hearing.

On Tuesday April 22, 2008 (Earth Day), a subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a field hearing on environmental education at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. The hearing will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with outdoor educational activities occurring that morning with students from the area. A key focus of the hearing will be the No Child Left Inside Act of 2007 (H.R. 3036), sponsored by Rep. John P. Sarbanes of Maryland.

With this hearing on the House schedule, this is a great opportunity for you to contact your representative and ask him or her to cosponsor H.R. 3036, if he or she has not done so already (check the current list). Go to the NCLI Coalition website to send your letter.

If your congressperson is on the House Education and Labor Committee or the House Natural Resources Committee (both of which are invited to the hearing), please encourage them to attend the hearing. Go to the House website to ask your representative to attend the "Environmental Education: Teaching Our Children To Preserve Our Future" field hearing on April 22nd.

The hearing will feature an excellent and diverse mix of people who will be testifying, but there is also an opportunity for members of the Coalition to submit written testimony. We encourage you to have your voice heard and create personal, compelling stories based on your experience. See below for guidelines on submitting written testimony.

For more information, go to the No Child Left Inside Coalition's website (www.NCLIcoalition.org). Thank you.

SUBMITTING WRITTEN TESTIMONY

As you write your testimony, you should:

-- Mention you are "pleased to submit written testimony before the House Education and Labor Committee, subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, on "Environmental Education: Teaching Our Children To Preserve Our Future." (This is a formality).

-- Thank Chairman Miller and Reps. McKeon, Kildee, and Castle for including much of the No Child Left Inside Act (H.R.3036) in the Education and Labor Committee's staff draft of the NCLB reauthorization bill and urge them to help achieve passage of the NCLI Act in this Congress.

-- Applaud them for their leadership in helping to close the achievement gap.

In your testimony, you can mention that environmental education:

-- Has a positive impact on student achievement in core subjects: When integrated into the core curricula or used as an integrating theme across the curriculum, environmental education has a measurably positive impact not only on student achievement in science but also in reading, math and social studies. Moreover, outdoor activities increases student engagement and interest in science and in all core subjects areas.

-- Helps improves the health of our children: Field experiences and related programs as part of the regular school curriculum contribute to healthy lifestyles through outdoor recreation and sound nutrition. Getting kids outdoors to exercise, play and experience their natural world is critical to helping to prevent obesity, alleviating attention deficit disorder and addressing other related health problems.

-- Provide critical tools for a 21st century workforce. We'll be passing on complicated environmental problems to future generations. We must give the next generation a solid understanding of these problems and the basic tools to overcome them and make informed choices in their own lives. Business leaders also increasingly believe that an environmentally literate workforce is critical to their long term success. Environmental education helps prepare students for real world challenges.

Logistics

Please submit your written testimony to Rep. Dale Kildee, Chair of the Education and Labor's Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education, c/o Tylease Fitzgerald, Hearing Clerk, by faxing it to 202-226-5398 or emailing it to Tylease.Fitzgerald@mail.house.gov. Alternatively, you can send it to Rep. John Sarbanes. His fax number is 202-225-9219 and staff contact email address is Roy.Chrobocinski@mail.house.gov. Rep. Castle's fax number is 202-225-2291 for Delaware testimony. Please provide a cover letter requesting that it be submitted for the hearing record. All written testimony must be received by seven days after the hearing, in this case April 29.

After you submit your testimony, please send a copy to your congressperson in the House of Representatives to let him or her know how important the issue is to you and provide encouragement to participate in the upcoming field hearing.

Please also send a copy to Abby Ybarra, NCLI Grassroots Coordinator, aybarra@cbf.org, for our records.

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