Senator Alexander Chairs Hearing On American History And Civics Act

Posted on April 10, 2003

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander today chaired his first hearing in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on his first bill proposal, "The American History and Civics Education Act." Alexander's bill, S.504, creates summer residential academies for teachers and students based on the successful Governor's School program in Tennessee that Alexander implemented as governor. "This hearing addresses the intersection of two urgent concerns that will determine our country's future," Alexander said. "These are also the two topics I care about the most: the education of our children and the principles that unite us as Americans. "When we are asking our young men and women to fight to defend our values, we need to do a better job of teaching just what those values are," Alexander said. The first witness to testify at the hearing was historian David McCullough, author of John Adams. "We are raising a generation of young Americans who are to a large degree historically illiterate," McCullough said. "We can't function as a society if we don't know who we are and don't know where we came from." Other witnesses at the hearing included:
  • Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington;
  • Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for Humanities;
  • Dr. Eugene Hickok, under secretary for the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Russell Berg, a student at Trumbull High School in Connecticut; and
  • Blanche Deaderick, a teacher at Germantown High School in Memphis who became involved with the Governor's School for International Studies at the University of Memphis beginning in 1986; first as a teacher and then as academic director.
Alexander's bill is co-sponsored by 19 other senators including Sens. Bill Frist (R-TN), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Congressman Roger Wicker (R-MS) sponsors the bill in the House.