U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today applauded Metropolitan Nashville Public 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 Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools has been selected to receive a $991,574 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 Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools have earned the chance to participate in the Teaching American History program so Nashville students can gain a better appreciation for this often-undervalued subject. I applaud Secretary Spellings and Nashville 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 Metropolitan Nashville Public 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.”
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) serves 72,000 students through 210 American history teachers at 134 elementary, middle and high schools. Project Discover B.A.H.A. (Bringing American History Alive) unites MNPS, Vanderbilt University and fifteen additional agencies to increase teacher knowledge, improve the quality of instruction, and enhance student performance. Project activities will include seven summer institutes, over thirty mini-institutes and workshops during the academic year, exam item development, access to history seminars, national and state conferences, a web site, and further training.
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 Loudon County and Wilson County.