The following was written for the Children and Nature Network Blog:

CALL TO ACTION: How State Departments of Education Can Get Children Outdoors

A growing volume of research substantiates the case for field-based learning, both in informal and formal contexts, as a way to narrow the equity gap in educational achievement.

One notable example is Gerald Lieberman’s book Education and the Environment: Creating Standards-Based Programs in Schools and Districts (with a foreword by Richard Louv). Lieberman found compelling data over several independent studies supporting the claim that students in schools and classrooms with environment-based educational programs performed at higher levels than their peers in traditional classrooms on standardized measures of academic achievement. He noted that this performance gap existed not just in science classes, but in language, arts, history, and social science classes as well.

We want to increase the presence and quality of outdoor education curricula among students for a multitude of benefits, including academic success and to further shape our children into informed, global citizens.

The CA Department of Education is seeking public commentary on their final revision of the Science Framework, which will greatly impact the direction of science curriculum for 10 million public school children throughout the state. The deadline to submit feedback is Monday, August 29, 2016.

The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition had the pleasure of collaborating with ChangeScale to host a feedback session with the unifying goal of connecting children with the outdoors. We focused our efforts on Chapter 9: Instructional Strategies, where we offered specific language to explicitly incorporate field-based learning into the recommended instructional strategies for k-12 students throughout California. For example, we encouraged them to incorporate the following sentences:

Student-centered learning environments extend beyond the classroom to the schoolyard, the community, parks, outdoor schools, museums, zoos, aquariums and beyond. Throughout this framework, when we refer to learning environments, we are referring to student-centered learning spaces both in the classroom and in the field.

This is a Call to Action to reach out to your state Department of Education to ensure that all school districts, administrators and teachers are supported in using outdoor education as a key instructional strategy in K-12 schools. If you live in California, you have until Monday, August 29 to voice your opinion!

UPDATE December 16, 2016: Environmental Literacy for all K-12 students in California