U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today applauded the Wilson County School System 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 Wilson County was selected to receive a $998,508 Teaching American History federal grant.
“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 Wilson County have earned the chance to participate in the Teaching American History program so Wilson County students can gain a better appreciation for this often-undervalued subject. I applaud Secretary Spellings and Wilson 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 Wilson 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.”
The Wilson County School System will use the grant for TEACH: The Story of Freedom, which is a consortium of K-12 schools in the public school systems of Clay, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Summer, Trousdale and Wilson counties, and the Lebanon Special School District of Tennessee. The consortium will offer high quality professional development in traditional American history to teachers in predominately rural counties. The goals of the project include increasing teachers’ knowledge of traditional American history content, increasing teachers’ use of the founding documents of this nation and increasing students’ understanding of and skill level in American 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 Loudon County Schools.