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Advocacy Alert: Ask Your Legislators to Fund the ESSA

by John Dichtl, President & CEO, AASLH on

Salle de classe, salle d'examen

Last year, AASLH worked with the National Coalition for History to advocate for the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Signed into law in December 2015, it restored funding for K-12 history and civics education cut five years ago.

Now we need your help once more to ensure that crucial programs in the ESSA are funded for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years:

  • American History and Civics National Activities: $6.5 million
  • American History and Civics Academies: $1.815 million

1)     The NCSS has prepared a message that you can send to your two Senators and your Congressperson by entering your name and zip code. If you wish, you can edit the letter before you hit send. This is quick and easy – it takes less than five minutes.

2)     To have more of an impact in your communication, edit and send the letter below directly to the staff people who advise your Senators and Representative on education funding. This takes a little longer, but ensures that the right people see your message.

3) Call your Senators and Congressperson to request appropriations for these programs. Feel free to use or adapt the message below.

 If you do not know who your Representative is, go to www.House.gov and enter your zip code in the box for the name of the Congressperson who represents you.  You can look up your Senators at www.Senate.gov.

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Sample letter to express support for the ESSA:

Dear Senator/Representative _________:

I am writing as a constituent to ask for your support for competitive federal funding to help local schools improve the teaching of history, civics, economics, and geography. Specifically, I am requesting that the FY 2017 and FY 2018 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bills fund the following programs authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act at the level of Chairman Cole’s FY 2017 House mark:

  • American History and Civics National Activities: $6.5 million
  • American History and Civics Academies: $1.815 million

These voluntary grants will help local schools and teachers in our state that wish to strengthen instruction in our country’s history, geography, economy and/or government. This support for teacher preparation and effective approaches is needed.

Over the past decades, the need to support local school districts in offering effective, engaging approaches to teaching American history, civics, economics and geography has increased significantly.   The National Assessment of Educational Progress demonstrates that barely a quarter of American eighth and twelfth graders achieve even basic proficiency in core concepts and facts related to American history and government. Funding these grants will help local school districts by offering intensive learning opportunities to students and teachers, and by supporting the development of a range of innovative, effective approaches to civic learning that engage students from different backgrounds and different approaches to learning. Research shows that far too many rural and inner city students are not learning the concepts and practices needed to become engaged and informed citizens.  Through these grants, school districts will have access to a menu of validated approaches for their voluntary use, and can implement the instructional methods that best meet the needs of their students and communities.

It is vital to the future of our republic that students graduate prepared for informed citizenship. We urge you to support funding to help local schools improve the instruction of history, civics, economics, and geography.

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