Civics, History Bill Would Create Teacher Academies

Posted on April 13, 2005

Two Senators on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to fund two-week summer academies to help teachers strengthen their knowledge of American history and civics. Sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., the "American History and Civics Education Act" would authorize $25 million a year to fund up to 12 such academies. "It is essential that children are connected to America's past," Reid said. "We have excellent government, history and civics teachers in our schools who want to pass on our American heritage to their students. Establishing these academies will allow them to become more knowledgeable teachers while also learning the best practices for teaching American history and civics." The bill also would create academies for students, where outstanding incoming high school juniors and seniors would go for four-week summer sessions to improve their understanding of American history and civics. Education Secretary Rod Paige applauded the introduction of the bill, saying it "will no doubt serve as a catalyst for a renewed interest in and commitment to the study of American history and civics." Although raising proficiency in reading and math is crucial, it would be a mistake to overlook history and civics in the process, Paige added. A recent report recommended that teachers "be offered the opportunity to acquire continuing education credits related to civic education so that they can become better skilled at inculcating the civic knowledge, skills, and attitudes students need to become responsible and engaged citizens" (ED, Feb. 18).