07.05.2011 0

‘No Child Left Inside’ Should be Left Outside

By Victor Morawski – Should students be required to demonstrate their ideological purity on issues like “Climate Change” and “Global Warming” to receive their high school diplomas? My home state of Maryland thinks so and if John Sarbanes and Jack Reed have their way, students across the nation may soon have this burden thrust upon them.

A recent press release observes that “Maryland became the first state in the country to require its high school seniors be environmentally literate in order to graduate.” Now, “each child must receive a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education ….”

Maryland Rep. Sarbanes has just succeeded in getting a bill he sponsored called “The No Child Left Inside Act” past the House, which would provide the funds nationally for similar programs. Sen. Jack Reed has introduced the Senate’s version, slated to come up for a vote in July.

By “comprehensive and multi-disciplinary” they wish for environmentalist issues to be woven into every subject, not just covered as a unit in a science class.

According to the Coalition backing the bill: “The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to require states, as a prerequisite to receiving implementation grants, to develop environmental literacy plans, for children in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.”

There are at least three reasons for defeating this bill and leaving it out of ESEA—also known as “No Child Left Behind”(NCLB)—when it comes up for renewal in the near future.

First, the bill’s $500 million price tag, in an era of record deficits, is prohibitive. No one is denying that it can be very beneficial for a child to experience nature up close and personal in his or her formative years.

Though a city dweller now, I myself benefitted immeasurably from living on a farm near a stream and pond in my own early years. Neither is anyone denying that many of today’s youth are too immersed in virtual worlds and should be spending more time in the real world’s natural settings. But is it the federal government’s job to be spending taxpayer-funded resources to bring this about for the nation’s students?

Second, though backers of NCLI claim that it will function as a corrective to what they see as the overemphasis of NCLB on basic reading and math skills, which they think necessarily takes class time away from other subjects like science and social studies, how can we be sure that NCLI won’t do the same to the basic mission of NCLB by forcing teachers to spend precious class time on environmental issues?

Coalition backers of NCLI claim that mixing environmental topics with them can actually heighten math and reading skills.

More, I think, needs to be done to establish this. Yes, one can try to integrate some basic math into an environmental topic but that piecemeal approach is not the same as systematically presenting these basic skills to a student in an organized and comprehensive way, as NCLB would encourage.

Finally, when I see the priorities of the Coalition backing NCLI as displayed on its website www.nclicoalition.org, they are pretty much the far-left priorities of extreme environmentalism, and this gives me concern.

How would national standards for the required environmental education curriculum be set? Is it not reasonable to assume that it would be developed from already existing federal publications on the subject like “America’s Climate Choices.” But here is clearly a document that adopts the extreme radical environmentalist position on climate change and presents it as the established truth on the subject.

Would a student be put by this Act in the position of having to respond to environmental questions asked on his or her senior end-of-year qualifying exams from a position that accepts extreme environmentalist views as established fact, or risk not receiving a diploma? Must students suppress any dissenting views that they might have personally for fear of not graduating?

“No Child Left Inside” should leave no child outside of his or her graduating class simply because their own views might differ from those of the radical left.

Victor Morawski, professor at Coppin State University, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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