NCH Letter Opposing Elimination of Political Science Program at NSF

October 20, 2009

Senator Barbara Mikulski
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Mikulski:

On behalf of the National Coalition for History, I write in opposition to amendment 2631 offered by Senator Coburn to H.R. 2846, the fiscal year 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The Coburn amendment eliminates funding for the political science program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In a statement supporting his amendment found on his Webpage, Senator Coburn asserts, “Theories on political behavior are best left to CNN, pollsters, pundits, historians, candidates, political parties and the voters. . .” In reality, historians and educators at the undergraduate and graduate levels rely heavily on the data, research and studies provided by political scientists in their own work. Indeed, political science research and scholarship is integral in teaching civics at all levels of education. Research in political science also provides important tools for assessing and understanding the needs of Americans in their role as citizens.

Funding for the political science program at NSF is only $9 million. Yet, elimination of this small amount could threaten the viability of political science as an independent field of study since federal money is often leveraged with private sector funding to support research.

The National Coalition for History is a consortium of over 60 organizations that advocates and educates on federal legislative and regulatory issues affecting historians, archivists, political scientists, teachers, and other public stakeholders. On behalf of the over 75,000 individuals represented by the constituent groups within NCH, I urge you to oppose the Coburn amendment.

Sincerely,

Lee White
Executive Director