Government Shutdown Takes Toll on School Field Trips

By Laura Heinauer Mellett — October 10, 2013 1 min read
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Furloughed federal employees and their families are no doubt feeling the effects of the ongoing government shutdown more than anyone.

But many students and teachers that were planning field trips to national parks and museums are finding that they, too, are having to make adjustments thanks to the political stalemate in Washington.

Many popular field trip destinations that serve as powerful tools for engaging students in lessons outside the classroom are closed, including all 19 museums and galleries run by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Statue of Liberty in New York City were closed Oct. 1, according to a USA Today report.

National parks are affected too, as a group of disappointed students in Chico, Calif. found out.

“I’m really mad at Congress,” sixth grader Payton Miller was quoted as saying in a story in her local newspaper last week. She was one of 60 students at the Rosedale School who had been planning to go on an overnight field trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park that was expected to be canceled because of the shutdown.

News outlets around the country were reporting similar cancellations at places like Olympic National Park in Washington state, Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, which commemorates those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

A Columbus Dispatch story said that that some schools were able to make last-minute change to their plans, opting to forgo federally funded memorials and instead rely on visits to private ones like the Newsuem—a non-government museum about the American news media in Washington D.C.

The Baltimore Sun reported that a scuttled school field trip to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine may have disappointed students, but in the end maybe it wasn’t so bad. The Baltimore Orioles offered those students a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Speaking of field trips, Education Week recently published an online map of teachers’ favorite field-trip destinations.

Also, a recent blog post over at Curriculum Matters highlights new research about the benefits of school field trips to art museums.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.