Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with co-sponsors Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Byrd (D-WV), recently introduced a bill (S. 659) called the “Improving the Teaching and Learning of American History and Civics Act of 2009.”
The bill would do the following.
- Authorize 100 summer academies for outstanding students and teachers of U.S. History and align those academies with locations in the national park system
- Double authorization (from $100m to $200m) for funding “Teaching American History” programs in local school districts, which today involve 20,000 students as a part of No Child Left Behind
- Require states to develop and implement standards for student assessments in U.S. History, although there would be no federal accountability requirement as there is for reading and mathematics
- Allow states to compare history and civics test scores of 8th- and 12th-grade students by establishing a 10-state pilot program that would expand the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)
The bill has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that Senator Kennedy chairs. Senator Byrd is the originator of the Teaching American History grants program and is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. In addition, Senator Alexander is a former-Secretary of Education and the Ranking Republican on the Children and Families that has jurisdiction over the Department of Education. So the key players are in a position to move this bill quickly.