On May 13, legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives that would eliminate the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the U.S. Department of Education. The bill (H.R. 1891), the “Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act,” would terminate 43 K-12 federal education programs the House Republican leadership contends are wasteful, ineffective and duplicative.
The National Coalition for History (NCH) strongly opposes this legislation. You will be receiving a follow-up message shortly from NCH on how to contact your Member of Congress in opposition to eliminating ALL federal funding for K-12 history education!
The bill was introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who chairs the House Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. It is the first of what are expected to be a series of bills in the House to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request for the Department of Education would eliminate Teaching American History grants (TAH) as a separately funded program. However, the Administration proposed consolidating history education into a new program called Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education. This reflects the President’s ESEA proposal, the Blueprint for Reform that was released in March 2010.
Representative Hunter rejected that approach saying, “Today I will introduce legislation that will eliminate – not consolidate, not defund, but eliminate – wasteful K-12 education programs.” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) expressed strong support for the legislation. “Clearly, the problem isn’t how much money we spend on education, but how we’re spending it – and right now, far too many taxpayer dollars are dedicated to ineffective, redundant K-12 programs,” Kline said. The House Education Committee cites an outdated seven-year old Office of Management and Budget unfavorable evaluation of TAH as justification for eliminating the program.
U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee issued his response to the bill, saying “The Republican education bill introduced today will not help move our education system to the 21st century and it won’t mean better outcomes for our students. It does nothing to address the concerns with accountability, it does nothing to support better data usage in schools, it does nothing to empower parents in their children’s education and it does nothing to help bring our schools and our students to the future.”
It is important to note, this legislation would remove the authorization for Teaching America History grants. It is not an appropriations bill that provides actual funding for the program. So unless and until H.R. 1891 passes both Houses of Congress, TAH still exists. It will be left to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to decide whether TAH receives any money in the fiscal year 2012 Education Department funding bill that the Congress will consider later this summer.
In the recently enacted fiscal year 2011 budget, the Teaching American History Grants program sustained a cut of $73 million (-61%) down from $119 million in FY ’10 to $46 million. Throughout the budget process House Republicans repeatedly targeted the TAH program for elimination.
The Administration’s proposed Well-Rounded Education program would support competitive grants to States, high-need local education agencies (LEAs), and nonprofit partners to develop and expand innovative practices to improve teaching and learning of the arts, foreign languages, history, civics, economics and financial literacy, environmental education, physical education, health education, and other subjects.
The National Coalition for History has been lobbying Congress to preserve TAH as an independent program, or at a minimum, ensure that it receives a dedicated level of funding if it is indeed placed in the Well-Rounded Education program.
In July, the National Coalition for History (NCH) and ten other NCH member organizations joined forces with over 20 educational groups representing other K-12 academic disciplines in issuing a statement to Congress and the Administration calling for the continued robust funding of core academic subjects including history. This includes maintenance of discrete funding for each discipline, including Teaching American History grants.