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NCH Advocacy Roundup

The National Coalition for History has been busy this summer working on a number of public policy initiatives relevant to U.S. historians. Here is a summary of that news from NCH Executive Director Lee White:

Federal Funding for the Humanities:
On July 15, The House Appropriations Committee adopted the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies FY 15 funding bill which includes $146 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. The National Coalition for History and the National Humanities Alliance had issued an advocacy alert urging support of increased funding, and the Committee responded by adding to the $138 million amount recommended by the Interior appropriations subcommittee.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission could receive its first increase in six fiscal years in the FY '15 budget, albeit a modest one. Both the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill passed by the House and the one considered by the FS&GG appropriations subcommittee in the Senate include an additional $500,000 for the NHPRC, up to a level of $5 million.

On July 18, the NCH submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting that history and civics education be included as priorities in determining where to focus federal financial assistance through the agency's discretionary grant programs. The Department of Education had proposed repealing its 2010 list of supplemental priorities which would remove history and civics education and replace it with new priorities. The Organization of American Historians and other history groups put out a call urging members to express support of history and civics funding. Thank you to those who responded! More than 1,600 citizens had submitted comments by the July 24 deadline.

National Women's History Museum Commission:
On May 16, the NCH sent a letter to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) regarding bill S.398 which would establish a commission to study the creation of a National Women's History Museum. NCH strongly supports forming the commission, as well as the ultimate goal of building the museum, but expressed concerns that the current legislation leaves out expert historians and the public from the deliberations of the commission and endorses a problematic fundraising plan. The nonprofit group National Women's History Museum, Inc. originally promoted the idea in 1996, but has faced difficulty raising funds and has also been criticized for the quality of the women's history exhibits on its website. In May, a companion bill (H.R. 863) passed the House by a vote of 383-33. S. 398 has not yet been scheduled for markup or consideration by the Senate.

Boston Public Schools History and Social Studies Education
The Boston Public School System on May 30 responded to a letter written by the NCH, giving assurances that its history and social studies department was not going to be eliminated. "We are glad you reached out to us," stated Interim Superintendent John McDonough, "and we are even happier that there is an organization such as yours to advocate for the preservation and expansion of History instruction." Rumors had surfaced on the internet earlier that month, followed by an online petition that went viral throughout the historical community. BPS issued a statement indicating that an upcoming reorganization had been misinterpreted.

To read Lee White's Advocacy Roundup article in full, go to: http://www.oah.org/programs/news/tag/advocacy

Posted: July 31, 2014
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Profession