The “Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015” (S. 1177)–Conference Report to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Overview of History-Related Provisions
After nearly a decade of false starts, President Obama has signed into law a new education law to replace the controversial “No Child Left Behind Act” that was passed in 2001. On December 9, the United States Senate voted 85-12 to approve the conference report to a bill (S. 1177) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). On December 2, the House approved the report by a vote of 359-64.
Most importantly for the historical community, the conference report restores targeted federal funding for K-12 history and civics education. NCH, AHA and the coalition’s member organizations have engaged in advocacy efforts for nearly five years to achieve this goal. Given the retrenchment of federal funding for a host of programs in the bill, restoration of funding for history education is a major accomplishment.
In fiscal year (FY) 2012 Congress terminated funding for the “Teaching American History” (TAH) grants program at the Department of Education. Appropriations earmarked for civic education and federal funding for National History Day, a nationally-recognized program which increases student participation in historical studies across the country, were also eliminated. As a result, since FY 11 there has been no federal funding provided for history or civics education.
S. 1177, the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” includes four potential funding streams for K-12 history and civics education.
Subpart 3: American History and Civics Education—These two programs would authorize an allocation of 1.4% of the amount appropriated for “National Activities” for each fiscal year the Act is in effect (FY 17 through FY 20). It is important to note these amounts are authorizations that will still need to be funded through the annual appropriations process.
- maximum of $6,564,000 for FY 17 and FY 18;
- maximum of $6,568,000 for FY 19;
- maximum of $6,848,000 for FY 20.
Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics would receive not less than 26 percent of the amount available for this subpart 3.
National Activities would not receive more than 74 percent of the amount available for subpart 3.
Sec. 2232: Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics:
This section establishes intensive academies for teachers and students to learn more about history and civics. The Secretary of Education shall award up to 12 grants annually on a competitive basis to fund the academies.
- Presidential Academy— Each year, the Presidential Academy shall select between 50 and 300 teachers of American history and civics from public or private elementary schools and secondary schools to attend a seminar or institute which provides intensive professional development opportunities. The program will be led by a team of primary scholars and core teachers who are accomplished in the field of American history and civics. It will be conducted during the summer or other appropriate time; and will be between two to six weeks in duration. Teachers will receive a stipend to attend the seminar or institute.
- Congressional Academy-Each year the Congressional Academy shall select between 100 and 300 outstanding students of American history and civics to attend the seminar or institute. To be eligible a student must be recommended by his or her secondary school principal or other school leader to attend. The student must be a secondary school junior or senior in the academic year following attendance at the seminar or institute. It will be conducted during the summer or other appropriate time and will be between two to six weeks in duration. Students will receive a stipend to attend the seminar or institute.
Entities eligible to conduct the Presidential and Congressional Academies include institutions of higher education, nonprofit educational organizations, museums, libraries, or research centers with demonstrated expertise in historical methodology or the teaching of American history and civics. Eligible entities must provide matching funds equal to 100 percent of the amount of the grant.
Sec. 2233: National Activities:
The purpose of this section is to promote new and existing evidence-based strategies to encourage innovative American history, civics and government, and geography instruction, learning strategies, and professional development activities and programs for teachers, principals, or other school leaders. The grants emphasize instruction, strategies, activities, and programs that benefit low-income students and underserved populations.
S. 1177 authorizes the Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to eligible entities (such as institutions of higher education and nonprofit or for-profit organizations) with demonstrated expertise in the development, implementation and strengthening of programs to teach traditional American history, civics, economics and geography. Grants will be awarded for developing, implementing and disseminating for voluntary use, innovative, evidence-based approaches to American history and civic learning that demonstrate innovation, scalability, accountability. Grants may be for professional development. Grants are for a 3-year period with the opportunity for a one-time 2-year renewal.
There is third potential funding stream for history and civics in the section of the bill. The legislation provides funding to the States to make grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) for a broad range of programs.
Sec. 4107: Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities provides competitive funding to LEAs to develop and implement programs that provide students a “well-rounded education.” One allowable use of grant funds is “activities to promote the development, implementation, and strengthening of programs to teach traditional American history, civics, economics, geography or government education.” LEAs may partner with other LEAs, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, community-based organizations and businesses in developing these programs.
Sec. 4611 Education Innovation and Research
Creates a new research and innovation fund that allows LEAs, in conjunction with nonprofit organizations, to apply for funding to create, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Innovations in teaching civics, history, social studies are eligible for grants. Note: This could be the source of much needed funding for evaluations of programs.