Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—the first update of the bill since 2001. The Senate bill—called the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) would replace the controversial No Child Left Behind. In an historic first, the bill includes language that strengthens the role of environmental programs in K-12 education.
Under ECAA (S. 1177), which draws from the No Child Left Inside Act (H.R. 882, S. 492), “environmental science education” and “environmental literacy” are included in the STEM education and the after school programming sections, respectively. The inclusion of this language is a huge boost, as it makes explicit the eligibility of key environmental education programs for federal funding.
This major step forward for the field came about through years of hard work on the part of NAAEE’s affiliates, advocates, and members; our environmental education colleagues and partners; and champion Senators Reed (RI), Alexander (TN), Murray (WA), Franken (MN), Kirk (IL), and Murkowski (AK), and their staffs.
What happens next? A companion bill—the Student Success Act (H.R.5)—which passed the House earlier this year does not contain provisions from NCLI or any language pertaining to environmental education. The likely next step is that the two bills will be taken up by conference committee. We will be watching closely and developing a strategy for ensuring key sections and language remain intact in any compromise bill.
Stay tuned for more information and action alerts as we approach the finish line!
For additional information, contact Sarah Bodor, Director of Affiliate Relations and Advocacy email@example.com or Brock Adler, Advocacy Committee Chair firstname.lastname@example.org