|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||January 26, 2005|
|Contact:||Diane Boyd, NPCA, 510-839-9922, ext. 22
Courtney Cuff, NPCA, 510-839-9922, ext. 21
Jack O’Connell, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, 916-319-7999
New Report Says California's National Parks Don't Make the Grade
Oakland, CA - A new report released today by the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) praises the quality of national park education programs, but points out that thousands of California’s children are turned away each year because the National Park Service has insufficient funding and staff. More than 50 education leaders statewide have endorsed the NPCA report, reflecting the widespread bipartisan support for increased funding for America’s national parks.
“I strongly believe in protecting the great state of California’s national parks, and see them not only as amazing places to recreate but important living classrooms for school children,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the administration in increasing funding for these national treasures, for our heritage and our children.”
Although Congress has regularly increased funding to protect the national parks, the Park Service budget has failed to keep pace with needs. As a result, education programs and staff are being cut in national parks across California and throughout the country, leaving Park Service educators without the necessary resources to keep up with growing demand from teachers, students, and parents. According to the NPCA report although more than 80,000 students are educated and inspired in California’s national parks each year, that represents only 1 percent of the 7 million students enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade in the state.
“California’s national parks offer tremendous outdoor learning resources for students, teachers, and schools,” said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, one of the report’s endorsers. O’Connell said that national park education programs “provide not only diverse academic lessons, but inspire the next generation to become responsible stewards of our precious natural and historical resources.”
The NPCA report, Making the Grade: Educational Opportunities and Challenges in California’s National Parks, reviewed education programs from 11 national parks in California representative of the range of education programs available in the state’s geographically diverse national parks.
“National parks are our country’s most powerful living classrooms,” said NPCA Senior Outreach Manager Diane Boyd. “Part of providing a high-quality education to our children is ensuring access to the unique learning opportunities in our national parks. To do that, Congress and the administration must work together to increase operational funding for the National Park Service above and beyond current levels.”