Funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History (TAH) program would remain at $119 million under the fiscal year 2010 omnibus spending bill passed by Congress on December 13. Funding for the program has remained relatively constant since FY 2004, fluctuating annually between $120 million and $118 million.

However maintaining the $119 million funding level can be considered a major victory. The version of the Labor, Health and Education fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill (H.R. 3293) passed by the House would have slashed the TAH program by $19 million, down to $100 million. In conference, the Senate appropriators held firm on the higher level of funding.

In report language (H. Rept. 111-220) accompanying H.R. 3293, the House Appropriations Committee justified the proposed cuts by questioning the program’s effectiveness. In 2007, the Department of Education began a four-year evaluation of the program to examine the relationship between teacher participation, teacher content knowledge, and student achievement. The Committee felt the reduced funding was sufficient pending program improvement efforts and completion of the on-going national evaluation. So while the program’s funding survived intact, it is becoming increasingly clear that the TAH grants must produce demonstrable results in the coming year.

The program is designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge and understanding of and appreciation for traditional U.S. history. Grant awards assist Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in partnership with institutions of higher education (IHEs), nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums that have content expertise, to develop, document, evaluate, and disseminate innovative models of professional development. By helping teachers to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of U.S. history as a separate subject matter within the core curriculum, the goal is to improve instruction and raise student achievement.