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Environmental Educators Speak Out

In the latest twist on the NCLB name, environmental groups have announced their No Child Left Inside campaign.

"In the classroom, NCLB causes science teachers to bypass environmental science when it does not appear to relate directly to state tests," says the coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and several of other environmental groups.

"Beyond the classroom, teachers have to forgo valuable, hands-on field investigations rather than take time away from test-related instruction," the group adds.

They're pushing an amendment to NCLB that would boost spending on environmental education and would:

Start a grant program in which states develop standards for environmental education, create public-private partnerships for financing it, and share effective practices in environmental education.

Offer professional development for teachers--similar to other federal efforts in math and science education.

Require states taking environmental education money to develop "environmental literacy plans" that explain how the states will ensure that high school students will develop their knowledge of the environment.

The champion of their cause is Rep. John P. Sarbanes, D-Md, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. That gives him the chance to offer amendments when the committee takes up the bill. He's a freshman--usually the least powerful legislators. But many believe first-termers will be an important voting bloc in this reauthorization.

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