NCH Urges US Department of Education to Prioritize K-12 History Education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently proposed a list of supplemental priorities and definitions to be used in awarding discretionary (competitive) grants made by the Department, including ones for K-12 history and civics education. While the proposal recommends a greater emphasis on civics education, it unfortunately does not prioritize history as well. On October 23, the National Coalition for History (NCH) submitted comments to the US Department of Education requesting that history be included along with civics education in prioritizing how limited grant funds are awarded.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register dated October 12, 2017. To see the draft proposal click here.

Proposed Priority 4 recommends that students need, “knowledge of civics, financial literacy, and problem solving and employability skills (such as critical thinking, interpersonal skills, or organization skills).” NCH made the case that history complements civics education in creating engaged citizens and leaving it out makes it more difficult to achieve the stated goals of the proposal.  A link to NCH’s letter can be found by clicking here.

NCH strongly urges its member organizations and interested parties to submit comments to the Department of Education stressing the importance of both history and civic education in providing our nation’s K-12 students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged citizens. The public comment period is open until November 13, 2017. Please submit your comments through the website.

While NCH’s letter can be used as a template, it is important that you use your own words and perspectives to make the case for history and civics. The website provides advice on what to include in comments. 

Please note, “Many in the public mistakenly believe that their submitted form letter constitutes a ‘vote’ regarding the issues concerning them. Although public support or opposition may help guide important public policies, agencies make determinations for a proposed action based on sound reasoning and scientific evidence rather than a majority of votes. A single, well-supported comment may carry more weight than a thousand form letters.” So simply submitting a one sentence comment that says, “Please add history with civics in Priority 4,” will not further our case.