National History Center to Host History Education Summit

The National History Center is hosting a day-long conference on Reforming History Education on June 12, 2007, at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. beginning at 10:00 a.m. The conference, co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, Newberry Library, National Council for the Social Studies, and Organization of American Historians, will address the current state of history education policy and future reforms in light of recent advances in student learning, teacher preparation, assessment, and curricular innovations in the discipline of history. The panelists include Robert Bain, Robert Harris, Robert Orrill, Diane Ravitch, Peter Stearns, Maris Vinovskis, and Suzanne Wilson. For more information, contact or 202-544-2422 ext 103.

National Archives to Release Nixon White House Tapes

The National Archives and Records Administration has announced the impending release of an additional 11 hours and 30 minutes of Nixon White House tape recordings. The three tapes to be released were all recorded in November 1972. The Archives has not announced the date for the release of the tapes, but it will not occur earlier than July 5, 2007. A copy of the full announcement, including details about how researchers may access the recordings, is available in the May 31, 2007, Federal Register.

Smithsonian Comes Under Fire At FY ’08 Budget Hearing

The Smithsonian Institution came under fire during this week’s markup of its fiscal year 2008 budget by the House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

The Smithsonian Institution’s budget would be frozen at the FY ’07 level. The Smithsonian would receive $536 million for operating costs, some $35 million less than the administration’s request for fiscal year 2008.

NEH Budget Increased in FY ’08 Budget Markup

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would benefit under the House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies fiscal year (FY) 2008 “Chairman’s Mark” that was approved this week.

NEH would receive an increase of $19 million over both its FY 2007 appropriation and the administration’s FY ’08 request. NEH’s budget would go from the current $141 million to $160 million, and would also be in parity with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which would see a $35 million increase over last year’s number up to $160 million.

NPS Historic Preservation Programs FY ’08 Funding Increase

This week, the House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies approved a fiscal year (FY) 2008 “Chairman’s Mark” that provides significant funding increases for history-related programs at the National Park Service (NPS).

Historic preservation activities at NPS would receive a $30 million increase over FY 2007 funding levels. The Save America’s Treasures program would receive a $12 million increase up to a level of $20 million; an additional $7 million would be appropriated for Heritage Partnership Grants up to $20 million; and the Preserve America program’s budget would be doubled up to $10 million. State Historic Preservation Offices would receive an increase of $7.8 million over last year, up to a level of $45 million. Tribal Historic Preservation Offices would receive a $1 million boost to $6.5 million.

Smithsonian Business Ventures CEO Leaves Under Fire

According to a published report in the Washington Post, Gary M. Beer, the chief executive officer of Smithsonian Business Ventures (SBV), announced this week that he would not seek to renew his contract when it expires this coming September.

Beer’s departure comes on the heels of the resignation in March of Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small. Beer was brought down by many of the same business practices that led to Small’s departure, such as questionable expenses and charges of excessive compensation. However, the Post article detailed allegations that Beer had a personal relationship with a subordinate who received five promotions and four raises over the last six years.

Save Our History Award Winners Honored on Capitol Hill

In a Capitol Hill ceremony this week, The History Channel honored the winners of its 2007 Save Our History awards. Save Our History is a History Channel initiative that provides grants to fund partnerships between teachers, students, historians, history professionals, government officials and businesses on projects that help communities preserve their local history and heritage.

Congressmen Brad Miller (D-NC) and Michael Turner (R-OH) were honored for their roles in forming the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus.

Senators Introduce Legislation to Bolster History Testing

In response to the release of the 2006 results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for U.S. history and civics, Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have re-introduced legislation (S. 1414) to establish a new, 10-state pilot program under the NAEP to assess and improve the knowledge of American history and civics.

The Senators plan to consider the legislation as part of the upcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee previously passed a similar bill in September 2006.

Report Card Shows Small Gains in U.S. History Proficiency

On May 16, 2007, two reports were released — The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2006 and The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2006 — detailing the achievement of America’s fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history, which was last assessed in 2001, and civics, last assessed in 1998.

Overall achievement showed small, but steady gains, at all grade levels in U.S. history, and at the fourth-grade level in civics. However, the report showed that civics achievement for eighth- and 12th-graders has not changed significantly since 1998. In addition the history report showed that only 30 percent of fourth-graders, 35 percent of eighth-graders, and 53 percent of twelfth-graders scored above the basic proficiency level.