Alexander, Byrd, Kennedy Push U.S. History in the Classroom

Legislation Would Expand Summer Academies, Teacher Programs, State Standards, Student Assessment

Posted on March 19, 2009

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to consolidate and expand federal programs to improve the teaching and learning of United States History. The legislation would: • Authorize 100 summer academies for outstanding students and teachers of U.S. History and align those academies with locations in the national park system, such as the John Adams House or Independence Hall • Double authorization for funding “Teaching American History” programs in local school districts, which today involve 20,000 students as a part of No Child Left Behind • Require states to develop and implement standards for student assessments in U.S. History, although there would be no federal accountability requirement as there is for reading and mathematics • Allow states to compare history and civics test scores of 8th- and 12th-grade students by establishing a 10-state pilot program that would expand the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) “When you look at our nation's report card, American history is our worst subject,” said Alexander, former Secretary of Education. “It’s time to put the teaching of American history and civics back in its rightful place in our schools so our children grow up learning what it means to be American. That means emphasizing history in our education standards and providing more opportunities for professional development to history and social studies teachers.” “History is not only the common memory that we all share, but it is also an excellent teacher,” added Senator Robert C. Byrd. “Studying history provides our young people with a grounding in the basic philosophies and values that served to form the foundation of America. By providing funding and emphasizing a focus on history, this legislation will help better prepare America’s students to lead in the future, by giving them a deeper understanding of this country’s past.” Senator Kennedy added, “The future success of the American experiment depends on today’s youth having the knowledge to understand our past and learn from it. This bill strengthens the commitment of our schools to educating their students in history and civics, and giving them the essential grounding they need to participate in our democracy. By raising standards for history education, providing greater opportunities for students and teachers alike to learn from leading scholars, and emphasizing important lessons from our past, this legislation will help prepare both our students and our nation for the best possible future.” ###