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Important Letter
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Social Studies Funding

Dear Member of the Community:
 
On December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA), was signed into law by Congress creating multiple new competitive grants to support high quality instruction in civics, economics, geography and history.  The President’s budget request came out on February 9th, and it did not include requests for some of the new social studies grants.  ESSA is being passed along to the Appropriations Committee for review, and as such, will determine whether or not funding will be provided for areas of social studies, including geography education. 
 
In support of the funding, Representatives Ross (R-FL) and Graham (D-FL) have circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to all Members of the House of Representatives, inviting them to sign a letter to Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro asking for funds for the competitive grants.  You are encouraged to call or email the legislative assistant who handles education appropriations for your Congressperson and notify them about your stance regarding your Representative signing onto the Ross-Graham Dear Colleague letter in support of funding for high quality civic and social studies education.
 
If you do not know who your Representative is, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code in the box located at the top right corner of the page for the name of the Congressperson who represents you.
 
If you do not know who the education appropriations legislative assistant is, call 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office.  Ask the receptionist for the name of the staffer who handles education funding.  Then ask to leave a voice mail, or ask for the email address of that staffer. It is preferable to call the Congressperson's Office and leave a message.
 
HERE IS THE MESSAGE FOR YOU TO GIVE TO THE STAFF MEMBER:
 
-   My name is __________ and I live in ______ (town) _________ in your district.
 
-   I am (calling/writing) because I am concerned about the quality of instruction in civics, economics, geography and history in our schools.
 
-   Tell the representative why or why not your local schools need help from the federal government to offer high quality instruction in these social studies subjects – keeping in mind these subjects are vital to our country and the future of our students.
 
-   Feel free to explain your direction of support or opposition of the funding with your Representative, and as such, potentially urging them to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter circulated by Representatives Ross and Graham in support of funding for high quality instruction in civics, economics, geography and history and fund ALL of the grant areas – keeping in mind that geography has been a subject that has not received funding in the past via the No Child Left Behind Act.
 
-   If you have any questions about why I am in support/opposition of this funding, please contact me at (email address or phone number).
{End of draft alert to your network}
 
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
 
For history, geography, civics and economics the ESSA creates:
 
·  a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to run intensive, 2 to 6 week long academies in American history, civics and government for high school students and for teachers. (Title II, Part B, Sup-part 3, American History and Civic Education, Section 2232)
 
·  a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to offering high quality instruction in American history, civics, government and geography for under-served students. (Title II, Part B, Sup-part 3, American History and Civic Education, Section 2233 - This is the Section CMS wrote, our 'Sandra Day O'Connor Act' language)
 
·  local education agencies (ie, school districts) are required to use a certain percentage of their federal money on coursework that supports a well-rounded education.  LEAs can choose from a list of subjects that specifically includes history, civics, economics and geography as well as foreign languages, the arts, and other subjects, LEAs can partner with non-profits on this funding. (Title IV, Part A, Sub-part 1, Section 4107, Well Rounded Education Opportunities)
 
·  a new research and innovation fund is created that allows LEAs, in conjunction with nonprofit organizations, to apply for funding to create, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students.  Innovations in teaching civics, history, social studies are eligible for grants. (Title IV, Part F, Sub-part 1 Education Innovation and Research) Note: This could be the source of much needed funding for evaluations of your programs.
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.
 

Copyright © 2016 New Hampshire Geographic Alliance, All rights reserved.


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