Contact Lamar Alexander in Support of Geography Education

A quick break from our “regularly” “scheduled” programming to appeal to those of you who live in Tennessee and/or support Geography in K-12 education (which ideally, in the latter case, is all of you).

Following is an update that Kurt Butefish of the Tennessee Geographic Alliance received from the National Geographic Society.  Please read the update and then contact Senator Alexander with the information contained at the end of the message.

Congratulations! It seems that the hard work of Alliances and the persistence of GENIP members (especially AAG) has led to the inclusion of geography in the core areas found in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Geography can also be found in the funding portion of the Senate bill, but is only eligible for competitive grants – along with history and civics – for 5% of the total funds allocated.

As a recap, if you look at the current bill starting on page 313 you will see four distinct sections that will take you through page 320. Here is a synopsis:

  • Section 2302 refers to the teaching of traditional American History
  • Section 2303 refers to American History and Civics Academies
  • Section 2304 refers to National Activities (this includes geography)
  • Section 2301(b) refers to funding

Here is the interesting part…

  • Section 2303: 85% of funding (2301b) will be allocated to traditional American History (these look like the old Teaching America History grants did)
  • Section 2303: 10% of the funding will be allocated to presidential academies (teacher-focused) and congressional academies (student-focused) – very small impact numbers
  • Section 2304: 5% of the funds will be allocated to competitive grants in History, Civics and Geography, with a focus on high-poverty students/schools

Part of GENIP’s (Geography Education National Implementation Project) recent meeting in Washington centered on ESEA. The participating organizations have agreed to share in a common voice to request that legislators make 15% (rather than 5%) of funding in section 2304 eligible for competitive grants. Talks are underway on how to maximize the opportunities for geographic education through collaborative efforts of the GENIP organizations.

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Please send a letter or email to Senator Alexander and include the following information with your message.  Here is a link to his email:  http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

His fax number is (202) 228-3398 and his mailing address is 455 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.

Following is some sample text for you to include in your message:

Thank you for positively responding to my previous request to include Geography as a core discipline in the ESEA reauthorization bill.

Geography and the geospatial technologies sectors of the economy are growing rapidly and demand more geography education in K-12 schools so that U.S. location-based technologies industries and the geospatial intelligence segments of the economy can grow.

For more than a decade, geography has been the only federally-recognized core academic subject not to have received any authorized federal-funded program for improvement.  This oversight is having real economic costs that, unless addressed, will continue to compound and have a direct impact on the geospatial services industry.

Because of this, I respectfully request that a much larger portion than 5% of funding in Section 2304 of Senate Bill 1177 be made eligible for completive grants to geography.

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