« Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Passion for Reading Powered Her Success | Main | Arizona's Final Science Standards Restore Evolution »

Senators Eye Changes to Federal History and Civics Grants

Two senators have introduced a bill that would make a small change to the $1.8 million American History and Civics Education program grants.

Under the change, grant recipients under the program—typically universities or nonprofits—would need to "include programs that educate students about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the Bill of Rights." The bill is sponsored by Sens. James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Angus King, an Independent from Maine. 

That requirement was not in the original version of the program, authorized by the 2015 rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The law replaced a former longstanding program focused more specifically on history teaching.

This may seem like a small change in focus, but there are a few reasons why it warrants attention. First, it's reflective of what appears to be a general interest in boosting civics education. There has been a spate of state-level action on this front: Massachusetts recently became the first state to require "action civics" projects as part of grades 8-12 coursework, while Washington state and Illinois both recently passed legislation requiring all students to take a half-semester civics course before graduation.

That's on top of more than a dozen states that now mandate that high school students take the U.S. citizenship exam at some point

The focus on the Constitution is interesting, possibly reflecting a more specific concern about Americans' generally lousy knowledge of this document. It's also notable because the federal government has generally been wary about putting in any requirements in grant programs that get close to specific content, since there are firm prohibitions on the federal endorsement or prescription of specific curriculum. (Longtime EdWeek readers will remember the shakeup last decade over the Reading First program, which critics said got perilously close to the line).

In all, it's yet another sign that interest in K-12 civics education is growing. 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments

  • Linda: My problem with homework is they give too much and read more
  • Seo Article Writer: Hello I just see your site when I am searching read more
  • Car Insurance Guy: Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. read more
  • cyptoreopully: Hey there everyone i was just introduceing myself here im read more
  • Connie Wms: Good grief. We have gone round and round forever with read more