U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today applauded Loudon County Schools and the U.S. Department of Education for their efforts to improve American history education in Tennessee. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that Loudon County has been selected to receive a $996,963 federal grant to improve the quality of American history education.
“Knowledge of American history is so important to our unity as a nation and our ability to be active participants in our democratic system,” Frist said. “I’m very pleased educators in Loudon County Schools have earned the chance to participate in the Teaching American History program so Loudon County students can gain a better appreciation for this often-undervalued subject. I applaud Secretary Spellings and Loudon County teachers for emphasizing this important issue.”
“Being an American is not based on race or where you came from but on a few principles that unite us as Americans. We cannot ask our children to be productive citizens without teaching them those principles and our history,” Alexander said. “Senator Frist and I commend Loudon County schools and the U.S. Department of Education for their efforts to put the teaching of American history back in its rightful place in our schools so our children can grow up learning what it means to be an American.”
Loudon County Schools represents the Tennessee River Valley Consortium, which is receiving its second Teaching American History grant. The project, America’s Republic: The Ongoing Story of our Founding Documents, will advance professional development of previously participating teachers and introduce a new group of teachers for grades 4, 5, 8 and 11. The centerpiece of the project is a series of academic year mini-institutes and methods workshops, as well as summer institutes for master and mentor teachers culminating in the design of training modules. The group, which includes Blount, Bradley, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe and Polk County Schools and Lenoir City and Sweetwater City Schools, plans to increase teacher knowledge of content and use of primary materials, local resources and technology, and increase student understanding and skill level in history.
History is one of the core academic subjects under the No Child Left Behind Act; however, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which is commonly known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” shows that less than one-quarter of America’s students in grades 4, 8 and 12 are proficient in American history.
The Teaching American History discretionary grant program, part of the No Child Left Behind Act, supports three-year projects to improve teachers’ knowledge and understanding of traditional American history through intensive, on-going professional development. Grantees must work in partnership with one or more organizations that have extensive knowledge of American history, including libraries, museums, nonprofit history or humanities organizations and higher education institutions. This year, the Teaching American History program will award 124 new grants worth $118.2 million to school districts in 38 states nationwide.
Other Tennessee school systems receiving Teaching American History grants include Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Wilson County Schools.