Environmental education and making sure people learn about connections with the natural world are key strategies to build support for conservation efforts. That’s why initiatives like Trout In The Classroom are fun for students and important educational tools. That said, the proponents of The No Child Left Inside Act are making a mistake by setting their initiative up in opposition to No Child Left Behind.
For starters this sort of education was not happening in any systemic way prior to the passage of No Child Left Behind — especially in higher poverty schools. In addition, there are plenty of people in the education reform community who are supportive of this issue and many of the ideas (teacher training etc…) but are put off by the tactic. The issue here is not No Child Left Behind, it’s schools that do not use science, the environment, history, etc…to fuel a powerful instructional program but instead employ empty calorie type teaching. Those schools and the problems that give rise to them should be the target of these efforts not a federal law that holds schools accountable for teaching students reading and math and focuses especially on minorities and poor students. The notion that reading and math is at odds with teaching kids about conservation is absurd and counterproductive. Curriculum and training not politics is where the emphasis should be here.