Geography will be defined as a “core area” in the new reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and grant proposals in geography will be eligible to compete for federal funding.
The U.S. Senate’s education panel has approved the Every Child Achieves Act, which reauthorizes the ESEA. Geography education advocates such as the Association of American Geographers successfully lobbied Senators to include geography as a core area eligible for the grant funding. The competitive grants will particularly focus on high-poverty students and schools.
If the full Senate passes the act this summer and President Obama signs it into law, it will be a victory for geography education: In the 2002 reauthorization act (No Child Left Behind), geography was the only core subject not to receive dedicated funding.
However, grant funding for geography is somewhat of an afterthought in the current version of the bill: It’s tucked away in a small portion of a larger program for American history and civics education. At present, the money allotted in the Act to fund grants for American history, civics, and geography education is proportioned as follows:
- 85 percent for partnership grants in traditional American history;
- 15 percent to establish Presidential and Congressional Academies for the teaching of American history and civics;
- 5 percent to “promote innovative history, civic, and geography instruction, learning strategies, and professional development activities and programs for teachers, principals, and other school leaders, particularly for low-income students in underserved areas.”
The GENIP (Geography Education National Implementation Project), a consortium of geography education advocates, plans to lobby legislators to increase this five-percent proportion to 15 percent. One of Missouri’s senators, Roy Blunt, sits on the Appropriations Committee that could change this proportion; we ask that you contact him here and express your support for cutting-edge, innovative geography education.
We know that geography is essential and is only becoming more so in our modern world — it’s time that our education system becomes better positioned to connect students to geography!