Teaching American History Grants Face Uncertain Future

President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request to Congress for the Department of Education has created uncertainty about future funding for the Teaching American History grants program, at least as it is currently structured. The Obama administration has proposed consolidating 38 existing K-12 education programs into 11 new programs. As a result,

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Teaching American History grants is no longer listed as a separate line item in the budget calling into question whether the program will continue to receive the approximately $119 million in funding it has in recent years.

Under the Administration’s budget request, the Teaching American History grants would now be part of a new program call “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education.” The administration is proposing $265 million in funding for the new initiative. Funds would support competitive grants to States and “high-need school districts” to improve teaching and learning in the arts, foreign languages, civics and government, history, geography, economics and financial literacy.

It is important to remember this is only part of the Administration’s proposed budget and Congress will have the final say with regard to funding priorities.

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5 thoughts on “Teaching American History Grants Face Uncertain Future

  1. The Teaching American History grant through Utah State University provided in-service opportunities for me that, as a history teacher, would not have been available otherwise. These programs help to enhance teacher learning and awareness of history in new ways that they can then take back to the classroom. Our U.S. History teachers need the opportunities that the TAH grant money provides specifically for this subject area. Teachers from our area went to Washington D.C. and learned so much about the history of our country. We’ve been able to tour our own region and learn about its history. We’ve had valuable lectures by university professors. All of this combined, has enhanced our knowledge and appreciation in ways that benefit our students as we teach them about the country in which they live. To generalize the TAH title in such a way as is proposed would lessen the impact we are making to help our students appreciate their heritage as it relates to U.S. History.

  2. Could this decision to change the TAH grant program be related somehow to the controversies last spring, where multiple proposals written by large private firms came under scrutiny? Writers of TAH grants know that there had been two categories of response: absolute and invitational. The former called on districts to meet high standards and spend the money wisely; the latter called for service to “high-need” populations. It looks like the $265 million will make all such grants fit the “invitational” category, unless Congress decides otherwise. That will require the writing of grant proposals that are much more focused on a district’s broader needs in the humanities, social sciences, and language arts, and how these help high-need populations succeed in school.

  3. The Teaching American History grant program has enabled me, as a faculty member at Virginia Tech, to work with K-12 social studies’ teachers all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. In numerous workshops, visits to historic sites, seminars, and summer short courses, , we have had the opportunity to familiarize teachers with the latest research and understanding of U.S. history, from the Colonial Period to the present. The universal reaction of teachers has been highly favorable and the TAH experience has given them a renewed knowledge and enthusiasm for history as they return to their own classrooms. As long as “effective teaching and learning” remains central to any new initiatives, and as long as this translates into the same process to foster collaboration between specialists and teachers in higher and secondary education, the title is unimportant, unless it signals a move away from these core principles of TAH.

  4. I have been privileged to direct three tah grants and have worked a consulatant on severa others.

    When I step back from my self interest in having history as a separate line item, I also see some strength in proposals from LEA’s that would promote the humanities in general without losing the disciplinary knowledge of history and other disciplines.

    I think the problem is that there will be less money for history education, something our country desperately needs for future citizens to make intelligent judgments aboutg the workd in which they live.

  5. We need one of our professional organizations to lead the charge to defend the TAH program. Thousands of teachers, museums, universities, and scholars have participated in this program and know the benefits. They would call their congress persons and lobby their representatives, if only someone would lead the charge!

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