Thanks to the passion, dedication and sheer tenacity of Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition members across the state, we were able to defy the odds and make history this year with several groundbreaking achievements that have eyes across the nation focused on Maryland.
*First Environmental Literacy Graduation Requirement in the Nation. After years of hard work and passionate support by hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals, Maryland became the first state in the nation to approve an environmental literacy graduation requirement to ensure all public school students receive a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education. Efforts to implement effective environmental literacy programs in every county school system are now moving forward, so stay tuned and check out the new online environmental literacy resources.
*Reintroduction of Federal No Child Left Inside Act. In July, the No Child Left Inside Act was reintroduced into Congress with bipartisan support! The Senate HELP Committee also completed its mark up of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and voted to include environmental education as a subject eligible for federal funding for the very first time.
*Schmidt Center Saved. Earlier this year, the Schmidt Outdoor Education Center was slated to be closed due to budget cuts. The closure of this valuable program would have been devastating to the 7,000 Prince Georges county students & teachers served every year. Thanks to your calls, letters and in-person support, the Schmidt Center was saved and will hopefully live on for many years.
*The Coalition Grew. Our Coalition continues to expand and is now 250 organizations strong, representing 630,000 individuals across the state, with new members every month! We are working directly with the MD Partnership for Children in Nature as they enter 2012 with a new structure and exciting plans to connect children to nature in communities, on public lands and during the school day.
*Federal Environmental Literacy Executive Order. The White House has indicated interest in an Environmental Literacy Executive Order that would charge the Secretary of Education to lead an effort across all federal agencies to review & coordinate efforts to support EE in public schools and reconnect youth with the outdoors. Efforts are under way to show support and encourage action. Stay tuned!
*Rebirth of the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature. In January, the Partnership will unveil their new structure as they move forward on many exciting initiatives in 2012. We'll keep you posted!
*U.S. Green Ribbon Schools to be Chosen. MSDE has joined the National Green Ribbon Schools Program recently launched by the U.S. Department of Education and has begun a statewide search for outstanding environmental schools. Learn more here.
* It Takes a Village. There will be many critical opportunities in 2012 to network and join forces to make a difference for kids, teachers, families and communities. Registration is now open for both the MAEOE and Greater Baltimore Children & Nature Collaborative conferences. Hope to see you there!
Thank you all so much for your incredible support and enthusiasm. None of this would have been possible without your help. Don't forget to visit us on Facebook for exciting news & opportunities. Have a wonderful holiday season and we'll be in touch in the New Year!
Coordinator Maryland No Child Left Inside Coalition