Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Time to Reach Out to School District Leaders About EE
Environmental educators have a critical opportunity now and over the next few months to reach out to school district leaders, encouraging them to use applicable funds from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support environmental education. ESSA is the law that governs K-12 education in the United States (formerly No Child Left Behind). The legislation passed at the end of 2015 and includes, for the first time, language that makes environmental education explicitly eligible for funding under a Title IV grant program. The fiscal year 2018 budget agreement includes $1.1 billion for Title IV, Part A, which is nearly three times more than was allocated for 2017, the first year for ESSA implementation. This increase makes the 2018-19 school year the first truly meaningful opportunity for Title IV, Part A programs to make an impact in many school districts—and those programs include environmental education! (Read more about EE in the Every Student Succeeds Act)
Federal ESSA funds will be distributed to states July 1, and then states will distribute funds to school districts, which have great flexibility for how to use them (including for environmental education). School districts need to submit a plan to the state outlining their intentions for using ESSA funds in order to receive their allocation. Specific deadlines for applications and dissemination of funds will vary by state (in Colorado, for example, plans are due June 30 while in Maryland, they are not due until Oct. 15) but now and over the next few weeks and months is generally an excellent time to reach out to school district administrators to encourage them to include EE in their plans for ESSA Title IV funds. (You can find a comprehensive timeline for ESSA implementation here).
NAAEE has prepared some resources to help you, including a template for a letter or email and some talking points for any meetings with school administrators that you might secure. To see if there are superintendents in your state who have already indicated an interest in environmental education resources and opportunities, visit the Superintendents' EE Collaborative, in which NAAEE is a partner. Feel free to reach out to let us know what additional information might be helpful (email@example.com), and let us know how it goes!