New K-12 Education Bill Passes House, Will Strengthen Environmental Education

Bipartisan Legislation Includes Key Provision from Rep. Sarbanes’ No Child Left Inside Act, Which Would Allow Schools and Teachers to Expand Environmental Learning Programs for Students Across America
December 2, 2015
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan bill that replaces the widely-criticized No Child Left Behind Act and includes numerous policies to improve K-12 education across the country – including one provision introduced by Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) that would bolster environmental education programs for young students.

“ESSA is a tremendous victory for advocates of environmental education who’ve fought long and hard to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards with outdoor, hands-on learning programs,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing a comprehensive education reform package that has immense benefits for students, teachers and schools across the country.”

The environmental education provision contained in ESSA comes from the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI), a bipartisan bill authored by Congressman Sarbanes that is designed to enhance American students’ environmental literacy. First introduced in 2007, NCLI was reintroduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Sarbanes and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) with the support of 41 original co-sponsors. It was also reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

NCLI would provide federal grant funding for teachers who design and implement environmental education programs in, and importantly, outside of the classroom. By encouraging new environmental curricula, the bill would also cultivate partnerships and strengthen relationships between school districts, colleges, environmental nonprofits, parks and other community-based organizations.

ESSA is expected to pass the Senate next week and advance to the President’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. In addition to improving environmental education, the bill contains a number of reforms that will help provide American students with a high-quality, twenty-first century education, including:

  • Helping states improve low-performing schools and enhance teacher quality;
  • Setting higher standards and improving learning outcomes for all students;
  • Dedicating more funding to bolster STEM education, student health and literacy initiatives and afterschool programs;
  • Identifying and acting on ways to close the achievement gap;
  • Strengthening access to, and the quality of, early childhood education programs;
  • Maintaining important information about student performance; and
  • Providing greater funding flexibility to better support students and school.

For more information about the bill, visit: