Tag Archives: Washington

The FY’2013 Federal Budget Proposal–and its Implications for Social Studies

It seems the one truly bipartisan agenda in Washington today is duping the American public.

The bailout, the modest job increases, the upswing in the NASDAQ and the Dow Jones, even the rebound in the mortgage bond market are all spun to make it seem that things are actually getting better for average Americans.

The same is true for American education, and no more so than social studies—the sacrificial lamb to the altar of “interdisciplinary” or “integrative” studies.

Back in 2011, the federal budget for the fiscal year 2012 saw hatchet-like slashes across federal agencies, cracking off limbs where pruning would suffice.   In education, the ax fell on programs that were needed for its stated mission of a literate citizenry by 2014.  Suffice to say the boughs that needed most attention were left untouched (boughs with branches in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example).

The Teaching American History (TAH) Grant program, of which I am a big fan, lost its funding for FY 2012, signaling to one and all Washington’s contempt for a quality education for our citizens.  In the 2013 budget released on February 13, the program’s woes would continue—the lost funds would not return.

Furthermore, most of the 2012 cuts have remained in place for 2013.  Although the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would receive a modest $8.2 million boost, most agencies saw a leveling off or a reduction in funding. 

The real insult, however, is how the Obama administration’s Department of Education views the role of social studies in future national plans.

Once again, the DOE proposes to scrap traditional K-12 history education and fold it into this new educational Leviathan named “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education.”  According to the National Coalition for History, the program aims to:

“support competitive grants to States, high-need LEAs, and nonprofit partners to develop and expand innovative practices to improve teaching and learning of the arts, foreign languages, history, government, economics and financial literacy, environmental education, physical education, health education, and other subjects. There would be no dedicated funding for any of the disciplines.”

To add insult to injury, this boondoggle has also felt the sharp edge of Obama’s ax: from $246 million in FY’12 to an astounding $90 million in this current budget.  Even the Administration has lost faith in their own proposal, to the tune of an over 63% reduction in funding.

If the federal government doesn’t even believe in this idea, why should educators buy into it?

In this endeavor, social studies educators should be joined with science faculty, teachers in foreign languages, physical education teachers, athletic coaches and others in common cause.  As much as integration is a valuable tool in the classroom, it is not a silver bullet for the ills of education—any teacher will tell you that. 

There are certain skills, concepts and facts that require the concentration, focus and expertise of a dedicated subject.  Thus, funding should also reflect the continued necessity of subjects/content areas by allocating monies to science, foreign languages, the arts and especially the social studies.

This program is dependent on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which governs K-12 education.  Since it’s an election year, and the ESEA is mired in Congressional deadlock, then nothing much can be done on this in the coming session.  Yet that gives that much more time to express our opinions on the matter.

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of collective action—too much of the Beltway cynic in me.  However, this can be driven in the right direction given the right buttons are pushed. 

Here is the link to the members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  Also included is the members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (phew, that’s a mouthful).  Take a little time to let them know that “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education” is nothing but a front to destroy our educational system.  It will make a mockery of our system, dragging us even farther behind other countries in every category.

Furthermore, even the Administration has shown its reluctance by slashing its funding—so Congress should devote those funds to more worthy educational endeavors.

Please contact your local Congressman, at any rate…and as usual, make sure to let him/know the Neighborhood sent you.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce

John Kline, Minnesota
(Chairman)
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin
Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California
Judy Biggert, Illinois
Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania
Joe Wilson, South Carolina
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina
Bob Goodlatte, Virginia
Duncan Hunter, California
David P. Roe, Tennessee
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania
Tim Walberg, Michigan
Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee
Richard L. Hanna, New York
Todd Rokita, Indiana
Larry Bucshon, Indiana
Trey Gowdy, South Carolina
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania
Kristi L. Noem, South Dakota
Martha Roby, Alabama
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada
Dennis A. Ross, Florida
Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania

George Miller, California
(Senior Democratic Member)
Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Donald M. Payne, New Jersey
Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Virginia
Lynn C. Woolsey, California
Rubén Hinojosa, Texas
Carolyn McCarthy, New York
John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Susan A. Davis, California
Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona
Timothy H. Bishop, New York
David Loebsack, Iowa
Mazie K. Hirono, Hawaii
Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Tom Harkin (IA) - Chair
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Patty Murray (WA)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Kay R. Hagan (NC)
Jeff Merkley (OR)
Al Franken (MN)
Michael F. Bennet (CO)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Richard Blumenthal (CT)

Michael B. Enzi (WY) -Ranking Republican Senator
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Richard Burr (NC)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Rand Paul (KY)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
John McCain (AZ)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Mark Kirk (IL)

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Mr. D is on NPR’s “All Things Considered” this Morning for MLK

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image via Wikipedia

This week, I joined a panel of educators from New York City to discuss the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday for NPR’s local NY affiliate WNYC 93.9FM.  We spoke about teaching ideas, challenges and struggles of teaching about Dr. King in schools today.  It first aired on Morning Edition as a local segment.  The segment is linked here:

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news-2/2012/jan/13/teachers-trade-tips-teaching-civil-rights-and-mlk/

The first audio piece was broadcast on WNYC’s Morning Edition, and a shorter version will be broadcast live on All Things Considered this afternoon (4-6pm)

 The second two audio clips are extra material from the interviews that add some depth to the broadcast piece–which was severely truncated.

It was a fun, informative and feisty session.  I hope I did the Neighborhood proud.

 

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Gay History, SOS March DC, etc.: Post-Vacation update

Even away on the West Coast, the madness of education keeps chugging along.

It’s good to be back after a restful week in Los Angeles–and a brief weekend in Palm Springs (It looks pretty bad that a teacher would enjoy themselves so much, but who cares?!)  Just wanted to update the Neighborhood on some tidbits I ran into along the way, as well as info for the Save Our Schools March this Saturday in Washington:

  • As soon as I touched down in Burbank, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 48, which requires California schools to include the achievements of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals in social studies curricula, with a similar ban on any school material deemed offensive to said groups.  On Sunday July 17. the Los Angeles Times, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, published a scathing editorial lambasting SB 48 as an attempt to proscribe an agenda on California’s schoolchildren.  I, for one, have questions as to who will be included, how will the curriculum process work, etc.  I’ll write more on this later in the week.
  • Just to show you that the lousy housing market knows no sacred cows, a landmark building couldn’t get sold for its asking price in LA.  The Ennis House, a Frank Lloyd Wright creation perched on the Los Feliz Hills overlooking the LA Basin, sold for $4.5 million–70 percent below the asking price.  I jogged by this house nearly every day: it’s in serious disrepair, but the views are spectacular.
  • I’ll be driving to DC this Friday for the second day of the National Call to Action conference, leading up to the Save Our Schools March on Saturday.  Not such which workshops I will attend (maybe one or two) but I definitely will be at the social in the afternoon.  Furthermore, I should be with the NYC folks during the March, so that’s where to find me.  Weather permitting, you can find me with the Hawaiian shirt and straw hat ;)

That’s about it for now.  I’ll be writing more about SB 48 tomorrow.

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