The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded 123 grants under the FY 2009 Teaching American History (TAH) program competition. To view the list of 2009 grantees, click here. This year’s awards come at a time when it appears congressional support for the program may be waning.
The Labor, Health and Education fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill (H.R. 3293) passed by the House (264-153) would slash the TAH program by $19 million from the current fiscal year’s level, down to $100 million. For the past several years, Congress has funded the program around the $120 million level, despite Bush administration efforts to cut funding for the program in half.
In report language (H. Rept. 111-220) accompanying the bill the House Appropriations Committee justified the cuts by questioning the program’s effectiveness. In 2007, the Department of Education began a four-year evaluation of the program to examine the relationship between teacher participation, teacher content knowledge, and student achievement. The Committee felt the reduced funding was sufficient pending program improvement efforts and completion of the on-going national evaluation.
The House Rules Committee, by a vote of 4-7 refused to allow floor consideration of an amendment introduced by Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) to abolish the TAH program and reallocate the funds to education programs for students with disabilities.
The program is designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge and understanding of and appreciation for traditional U.S. history. Grant awards assist Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in partnership with institutions of higher education (IHEs), nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums that have content expertise, to develop, document, evaluate, and disseminate innovative models of professional development. By helping teachers to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of U.S. history as a separate subject matter within the core curriculum, the goal is to improve instruction and raise student achievement.