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Advocacy news and important action alerts.

Oppose Cuts to Federal Funding for International Education

House and Senate Appropriations Committees are in the process of finalizing fiscal year 2017 (FY17) Department of Education funding bills. Unfortunately, severe cuts to Title VI/Fulbright-Hays international education programs are on the table.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill that recently cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee would fund Title VI (A&B) Domestic Programs at $65 million and Fulbright-Hays Overseas Programs at $2.1 million for FY17. While this reflects level funding from FY16 for Title VI, the Fulbright-Hays program would be slashed by $4.9 million, or a 69 percent cut. Perhaps even more important, the Senate bill, if enacted by Congress, would represent a massive $58.63 million cut over a six year period, a 47 percent reduction, since the FY10 high point for Title VI/Fulbright-Hays.

Act now to tell House appropriators that international education programs are crucial for educating U.S. students for our interconnected world and training experts in foreign languages and cultures! Please follow this link to the National Humanities Alliance's legislative alert center where you can contact your Representative and tell them to oppose these cuts. If possible, we strongly encourage you to personalize this message, telling Congress why these programs are important to you, your institution, your field, state, or district.

Posted: June 17, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


Urge the Senate to Confirm Dr. Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress

President Obama's nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden to become the 14th Librarian of Congress is pending before the U.S. Senate and may be voted on at any time. We are asking you to contact your senators and urge them to support her confirmation and that a vote be scheduled as soon as possible so she can assume her position, which has been vacant since October 2015. Dr. Hayden would become the first woman and the first African-American to lead the Library of Congress. She would also be the first librarian to serve in the post in 60 years. Please contact your U.S. Senators in support of Dr. Hayden's nomination today!

Please follow this link to the National Humanities Alliance's legislative alert center where you can contact your U.S. Senators and urge their support of Dr. Hayden's nomination. If possible, we strongly encourage you to personalize this message, telling your senators why the Library of Congress is important to your work, your institution, or your field.

Alternatively, you can call your senators through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. You can find a list of your state's senators through the U.S. Senate's website at www.senate.gov/contact

Posted: June 17, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


Save Princeton Coalition Update

The Daily Princetonian ran an editorial expressing support for the preservation of Maxwell's Field, a portion of the Princeton Battlefield which has recently been purchased by the Insitute for Advanced Studies. The IAS plans to develop faculty housing on the land. The National Coalition for History, of which the OAH is a member, recently took out an advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, urging the IAS to preserve Maxwell's Field.

The Daily Princetonian editorial can be read in full here.

The open letter can be read here. 

Posted: April 29, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


NCH Marks Numerous Achievements in 2015

By Lee White

In an extremely productive 2015, the National Coalition for History achieved numerous major goals. Foremost among these was the restoration of funding for K–12 history education in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

In addition, unexpected issues allowed NCH to reinforce its role as the preeminent public voice for history, archives, and our other constituencies. For example, we submitted comments to the federal government regarding the treatment of oral history in research, as well as a letter to the secretary of state and the archivist of the United States expressing concern over the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

We also launched a newly redesigned website in April 2015 with enhanced social media components. This improved our efforts to educate our constituent organizations (and potential members) about the important contributions the coalition has made in the past and how we will continue to play a vital role in policy making in the future.

Some issues, such as making the case for federal funding for history-related programs, will always remain at the core of NCH's agenda. But the coalition is now poised to continue to expand beyond Washington, truly making it the National Coalition for History.

Below is a summary of NCH's major accomplishments in 2015:

ESSA includes four sections that provide funding streams for K–12 history and civics education. Two sections are specifically earmarked for those subjects and two sections establish grant programs in which the subjects are eligible for competitive funding.

NCH is already working to ensure that the new programs authorized in the law are funded during the fiscal year (FY) 2017 congressional appropriations process.

Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Funding for History-Related Agencies and Programs

On December 18, Congress approved a $1.15 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the rest of FY '16. Several positive developments came from the bill. For example, the National Endowment for the Humanities budget was increased for the first time in six years, by $2 million, up to $148 million. And potentially severe cuts in the Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs were defeated.

Of particular note is the level funding received by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) this fiscal year. The original appropriations bill considered in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee would have cut NHPRC's FY '16 budget by 40 percent, from $5 million in FY '15 to $3 million. The situation allowed NCH to use the contacts gained from the Congressional History Caucus (see below), and the cut was rescinded at the House Appropriations Committee markup. NHPRC was the only program in the entire bill to have funding restored.

As we have said in the past, the fact that Congress did not go so far as to cut funding for our interests is a true victory, given today's budget climate.

NCH Submits Comments on Human Subjects Research in HHS Rule

In September, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and 15 other federal departments and agencies announced that they were considering revisions to the regulations for the protection of human subjects in research.

The proposed rule specified "oral history, journalism, biography, and historical scholarship activities that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected" as potentially exempt from "the scope of the Common Rule" (that is, the requirement that institutional review boards approve all research involving human subjects). The recommendations also acknowledged that oral history, and historical studies in general, already employ well-­developed codes of ethical conduct. Finally, the draft rule recognized the importance and value of identifying individual historical actors in history; IRBs often require human subjects to be given anonymity.

The Oral History Association's (OHA) executive director, the late Clifford Kuhn, took the lead in preparing draft comments on the proposed rule. The comments strongly endorsed the recommendation to exclude oral history from the Common Rule. NCH used the OHA's paper as the basis for a letter submitted to the HHS on October 30 (see http://historycoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/NCH-HHS-Human-Subjects-Proposed-Rule-10-30-15.pdf).

National Women's History Museum Commission

In December 2014, President Obama signed legislation establishing a commission to study the potential creation of a National Women's History Museum. In 2015, the panel's members were appointed, and they are now ramping up the commission's activities. They recently launched a website and social media presence (www.womens historycommission.org). The commission is tasked with submitting a report to the president and Congress by no later than November 18, 2016.

The commission has solicited input from leading authorities and experts on women's history, professionals from the museum and curatorial fields, prominent American women, and influential women's organizations from across the country. A "scholar's summit" was held in January. I recently met with the commission's executive director and research director and expressed NCH's interest in assisting in whatever way we can in its work.

Congressional History Caucus

Throughout 2015 NCH worked to recruit members to the Congressional History Caucus and assist it in its mission of promoting history on Capitol Hill. We currently have 23 members in the House caucus, an increase from the end of the last session.

Our website (historycoalition.org) includes a "how-to" page to allow NCH organizations and their members to recruit members of Congress to the caucus. We continued to promote the "Dear Colleague" letter urging representatives to join the caucus. Every House office was contacted at least once by an NCH staff member. NCH member organizations sent solicitations to their constituents urging them to contact their congressional representative to have them join. More information on the History Caucus can be found at historycoalition.org/congressional-history-caucus.

NCH anticipates an equally productive 2016. Stay tuned.

Lee White is executive director of the National Coalition for History.

Posted: April 4, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


National Coalition For History 2015 Annual Report

Prepared by Lee White, Executive Director, December 28, 2015

2015 was an extremely successful and productive year for the National Coalition for History which saw the achievement of numerous major accomplishments in 2015. Foremost among these was the restoration of funding for K-12 history education in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was brought to fruition.

In addition, unexpected issues arose that allowed NCH to reinforce its role as the preeminent public voice for history, archives and our other constituencies. These included submitting comments to the federal government on the treatment of oral history in research and a letter to the Secretary of State and the Archivist of the United States expressing concern over the handling of former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails.

NCH improved in our efforts to educate our constituent organizations (and potential members) about our important contributions in the past, and how the coalition will continue to play a vital role in policy making in the future. NCH launched a newly redesigned website in April 2015 with enhanced social media components.

Issues such as making the case for federal funding for history-related programs will always remain at the core of NCH's agenda. However, in 2016 the coalition is poised to continue to transform itself beyond Washington to truly make it the "National" Coalition for History.

Below is a summary of NCH's major accomplishments in 2015:

Restoration of federal funding for K-12 history/civics education

After nearly a decade of false starts, President Obama has signed a new education law (Public Law 114-95) to replace the controversial No Child Left Behind Act; which was passed in 2001. On December 9, the US Senate voted 85–12 to approve the conference report to a bill (S. 1177) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. On December 2, the House had approved the report by a vote of 359–64.

Most importantly for the historical community, the new law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—restores targeted federal funding for K–12 history and civics education. NCH and the coalition's member organizations have engaged in advocacy efforts for nearly five years to achieve this goal. Given the elimination of federal funding for over 60 programs in the bill, restoration of funding for history education is a major accomplishment.

ESSA includes four sections that provide funding streams for K–12 history and civics education. Two sections are specifically earmarked for those subjects and two sections establish grant programs in which the subjects are eligible for competitive funding.

NCH is already working to ensure the new programs authorized in the law are funded during the FY '17 congressional appropriations process.

FY '16 Federal Funding for History-Related Agencies and Programs

On December 18, Congress approved a $1.15 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2016. For example, the NEH budget was increased for the first time in six years by $2 million up to a level of $148 million. Potentially severe cuts in the Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs were defeated.
Of particular note is the level funding the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) received this fiscal year. The original appropriations bill considered in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee would have cut NHPRC's FY' 16 budget by 40 percent from the FY' 15 level of $5 million to $3 million. The situation allowed NCH to use the contacts gained from the Congressional History Caucus, and the cut was rescinded at the House Appropriations Committee markup. The NHPRC was only program in the entire bill to have funding restored.

This has become a mantra in recent years, but the fact that our interests survived intact should be considered a victory in this budget climate.

NCH comments on Human Subjects Research in HHS Rule

In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and fifteen other federal departments and agencies announced proposed revisions to the regulations for protection of human subjects in research.

The draft rule stated that "oral history, journalism, biography, and historical scholarship activities that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected" be explicitly excluded from "the scope of the Common Rule." Moreover, the recommendations acknowledged the importance and value within oral history, and historical studies more generally, to identify individual actors in history, and recognized that there already existed discipline-specific codes of ethical conduct.

The Oral History Association's (OHA) executive director, the late Dr. Clifford Kuhn, took the lead in preparing draft comments on the proposed rule. The comments strongly endorsed the recommendation to exclude oral history from the Common Rule. NCH used the OHA's paper as the basis for a letter submitted to the HHS on October 30. (http://historycoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/NCH-HHS-Human-Subjects-Proposed-Rule-10-30-15.pdf)

National Women's History Museum Commission

In December 2014, President Obama signed legislation establishing a commission to study the potential creation of a National Women's History Museum. In 2015, the panel's members were appointed, and they are now ramping up the commission's activities. They recently launched a website and social media presence (http://www.womenshistorycommission.org). The commission is tasked with submitting a report to the president and Congress by no later than November 18, 2016.

The commission has solicited input from leading authorities and experts on women's history, professionals from the museum and curatorial fields, prominent American women, and influential women's organizations from across the country. A "scholar's summit" was held in January 2016. I recently met with the commission's executive director and research director and expressed NCH's interest in assisting in whatever way we can in its work.

Congressional History Caucus

Throughout 2015 NCH worked to recruit members and assist the Congressional History Caucus in achieving its mission of promoting history on Capitol Hill. We currently have 23 members in the House caucus, which is more than we had at the end of the last session.

Our website includes a "how-to" page to allow NCH organizations and their members to recruit Members of Congress for the caucus. We continued to promote the "Dear Colleague letter" urging representatives to join the caucus. Every House office was contacted at least once by NCH staff. NCH member organizations sent solicitations to their members urging them to contact their House member and urge them to join. More information on the History Caucus can be found at (http://historycoalition.org/congressional-history-caucus)

NCH Organizational Update

As noted above, NCH launched a newly redesigned website in April 2015 with enhanced social media components. As a result, NCH was able to expand the frequency of communications with the full membership not just the policy board. Staff developed an infographic to highlight NCH's achievements to existing members, and to solicit new and lapsed organizations to join the coalition. Staff completed a "re-branding" project which included the development of a new logo for NCH for use on letterhead, the website, social media, business cards, etc. Emails recruiting new members were sent to numerous target organizations for follow-up. After the launch of the website, the interns devoted nearly all of their time on membership recruitment and retention.

Posted: April 4, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


Federal Funding for History Holds Steady

By Lee White

On December 18, 2015, Congress approved a $1.15 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2016. The vote in the House was 316–113; in the Senate, it was 65–33. President Obama signed the bill into law (PL 114-113) the same day.

Across the board, our programs generally were either level-funded or received small increases this fiscal year compared to last. Funding has become a constant issue in recent years, but the fact that our interests survived intact should be considered a victory in this budget climate. Here are some highlights:

Of particular note is level funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The original appropriations bill considered in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee would have cut NHPRC's FY '16 budget by 40 percent from the FY '15 level of $5 million to $3 million. This crisis allowed NCH to work with the contacts gained from the History Caucus, and the cut was rescinded at the House Appropriations Committee markup. The NHPRC was the only program in the entire bill to have funding restored. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received $7.3 million in its operating expenses budget.

In addition, level funding for the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays International Education programs should also be considered a major accomplishment. In August, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $25 million (35 percent) reduction for these programs. We worked closely with our allies at the National Humanities Alliance and the Coalition for International Education to successfully advocate against these potentially devastating cuts. In the omnibus FY '16 budget both Title VI ($65.1 million) and Fulbright-Hays ($7.2 million) received level funding.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received a nearly $2 million funding increase, to $147.9 million. This amounts to the first increase in the NEH's budget in the past six years.
The Smithsonian Institution received $21 million more than last year. The Library of Congress will receive a $9 million increase this fiscal year and has seen a $21 million increase over the past two fiscal years. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) received a modest $2.2 million increase.

The Historic Preservation Fund at the National Park Service received a $9 million increase. However, $8 million of that funding is dedicated to a new grant program to preserve Civil Rights Movement historic sites.

In February, the FY '17 appropriations process begins anew. NCH and the historical community will have an additional challenge in ensuring that the new K–12 history and civics education programs that were authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act are fully funded in their first fiscal year.

Lee White is executive director of the National Coalition for History.

Posted: February 26, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Profession


Urge the House to Fund K-12 History and Civics Education

In December, President Obama signed into law a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The "Every Student Succeeds Act" restored funding for K-12 history and civics education that was eliminated five years ago. Unfortunately, when the President's budget request was released on February 9 it did not include appropriations for the major new program source of funding for history and civics.

Left unfunded was a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to provide high quality instruction in American history and civics for under-served students.

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 the House Appropriations Committee asking for funds for these competitive grants.

The OAH and the National Coalition for History (NCH) urgently needs you to contact your representative and ask him or her to sign the Ross/Graham "Dear Colleague" letter supporting funding for history and civics education. Click here to see a copy of the letter.

How to Contact Your Representative

Please call or email your House member's office and urge them to support federal funding for history and civics education. To contact your representative, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the education field, especially as a K-12 teacher, mention the institution where you work in your congressional district.

Make a phone call. All Members of Congress can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, a personal phone call is preferable to an email. If you are not sure who your Representative is you can follow this link to the House's website.
Then enter your zip code which will provide a link to your Member's website. Ask the receptionist for the name of the staffer who handles education funding. Then ask to leave a voice mail, or for the email address of that staffer.

Send an email. The NCH, working with our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance, has prepared a one-step link to your House member. You simply enter your address and the system identifies your representative. We've provided an email template that can be edited to personalize your message. The message not only goes to your Member's email, but their Twitter account and Facebook page as well.

Posted: February 18, 2016
Tagged: News of the Profession, Advocacy


Congress Restores Funding for K–12 History Education

By Lee White

After nearly a decade of false starts, President Obama has signed a new education law (Public Law 114-95) to replace the controversial No Child Left Behind Act that was passed in 2001. On December 9, the U.S. Senate voted 85–12 to approve the conference report to a bill (S. 1177) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. On December 2, the House approved the report by a vote of 359–64.

Most importantly for the historical community, the new law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—restores targeted federal funding for K–12 history and civics education. The National Coalition for History (NCH), the OAH, and the coalition's member organizations have engaged in advocacy efforts for nearly five years to achieve this goal. Given the retrenchment of federal funding for a host of programs in the bill, restoration of funding for history education is a major accomplishment.

In fiscal year (FY) 2012, Congress terminated funding for the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the Department of Education. The move also eliminated appropriations earmarked for civics education and federal funding for National History Day, a nationally recognized program that increases student participation in historical studies across the country. As a result, starting in FY 2012 there has been no federal funding provided for history or civics education.

ESSA includes four sections that provide funding streams for K–12 history and civics education. Two sections are specifically earmarked for those subjects, and two sections establish grant programs in which the subjects are eligible for competitive funding.

Within ESSA, Subpart 3: American History and Civics Education authorizes an allocation of 1.4 percent of the amount appropriated for all national activities relating to preparing, training, and recruiting high-quality teachers, principals, and other school leaders for each fiscal year the act is in effect (FY 2017 through FY 2020). It is important to note that these amounts will still need to be funded through the annual appropriations process. The maximum allowable allocations are $6,564,000 each for FY 2017 and FY 2018, $6,568,000 for FY 2019, and $6,848,000 for FY 2020. (These funding amounts are provided by the Committee for Education Funding.)

Two programs stand to benefit substantially from Subpart 3. Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics (section 2232) would receive not less than 26 percent of the amount available, and other National Activities (section 2233) would receive up to 74 percent.

Section 2232: Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics—This section establishes intensive academies for teachers and students to learn more about history and civics. The secretary of education shall award up to 12 grants annually on a competitive basis to fund the academies.

1. Presidential Academy—Each year, the Presidential Academy shall select between 50 and 300 teachers of American history and civics from public or private elementary schools and secondary schools to attend a seminar or institute that provides intensive professional development opportunities. The program will be led by a team of primary scholars and core teachers who are accomplished in the field of American history and civics. It will be conducted during the summer or other appropriate time and will be between two and six weeks in duration. Teachers will receive a stipend to attend the seminar or institute.

2. Congressional Academy—Each year the Congressional Academy shall select between 100 and 300 outstanding students of American history and civics to attend a seminar or institute. To be eligible to attend, a student must be recommended by his or her secondary school principal or other school leader. The student must be a secondary school junior or senior in the academic year following attendance at the seminar or institute. The program will be conducted during the summer or other appropriate time and will be between two and six weeks in duration. Students will receive a stipend to attend the seminar or institute.

Entities eligible to conduct the Presidential and Congressional Academies include institutions of higher education, nonprofit educational organizations, museums, libraries, and research centers with demonstrated expertise in historical methodology or the teaching of American history and civics. Eligible entities must provide matching funds equal to 100 percent of the amount of the grant.

Section 2233: National Activities—The purpose of this section is to promote new and existing evidence-based strategies to encourage innovative instruction in American history, civics and government, and geography; learning strategies; and professional development activities and programs for teachers, principals, and other school leaders. The grants emphasize instruction, strategies, activities, and programs that benefit low-income students and underserved populations.

ESSA authorizes the secretary of education to award competitive grants to eligible entities (such as institutions of higher education and nonprofit or for-profit organizations) with demonstrated expertise in the development, implementation, and strengthening of programs to teach traditional American history, civics, economics, and geography. Grants will be awarded for developing, implementing, and disseminating for voluntary use innovative, evidence-based approaches to American history and civic learning that demonstrate innovation, scalability, and accountability. Grants may be for professional development. Grants are for a three-year period with the opportunity for a one-time two-year renewal.

There are two other potential funding streams for history and civics. The law provides funding to the states to make grants to local education agencies (LEAs) for a broad range of programs.

Section 4107: Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities—This section provides competitive funding to local education agencies (LEAs) to develop and implement programs that provide students with a "well-rounded education." One allowable use of grant funds is for "activities to promote the development, implementation, and strengthening of programs to teach traditional American history, civics, economics, geography, or government education." LEAs may partner with other LEAs, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, community-based organizations, and businesses in developing these programs.

Section 4611: Education Innovation and Research—This section creates a new research and innovation fund 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, and social studies are eligible for grants. This could be the source of much-needed funding for the evaluation of programs.

So what happens next?

First, the programs authorized in the law have to be funded by the appropriations committees in the House and Senate. The NCH will be sending alerts in February, when the FY 2017 appropriations process begins, asking everyone who cares about history, civics, and social studies to contact their senators and representatives to urge full funding for these programs created as part of the ESSA legislation. Despite the fact that the grant programs now exist, we still must push to have them fully funded.

Second, over the course of 2016, the Department of Education will prepare program guidelines and competitive criteria for the grant programs outlined in ESSA. That way, once the funding is made available, the department will be ready to issue calls for proposals.

Finally, the competitive funding awards will likely be made, and moneys distributed, for the first time in the second half of calendar year 2017. The change in administrations in January may push the timetable further back.

The restitution of federal funding for K–12 history and civics education is reason to cheer, and we should recognize the important role that advocacy played in ensuring that K–12 history continues to play an important role in our children's education.

Lee White is executive director of the National Coalition for History.

Posted: January 12, 2016
Tagged: Advocacy


Urge the Senate to Pass the "Every Student Succeeds Act"

On December 2, the House of Representatives by a vote of 359-64 approved the conference report to S.1177, the "Every Student Succeeds Act." The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the next four years and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act. Most importantly the legislation includes multiple sources of funding to support improved instruction in K-12 history, civics, geography and economics.

The Organization of American Historians, along with the National Coalition for History (NCH), urgently needs you to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to support the conference report. Click here for a link that allows you to send an email directly to your Senators and urge him or her to support the conference report that includes key provisions that benefit history and civics education.

It is vital that all Senators, Republicans and Democrats, receive the message loud and clear from their constituents that the education of our nation's K-12 students is vitally important and a non-partisan issue.

The OAH limits our legislative "action alerts" to situations and issues that are vital to the interests of our constituents. We cannot overstress the importance of this effort! Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA in 15 years so this legislation is our only opportunity to get funding restored for K-12 history and civics education.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor during the week of December 7. Time is of the essence so call or email today.

How to Contact Your Senator

Please call or email your Senator's office and urge him or her to support restoring federal funding for history and civics education. To contact your Senator you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the field, especially as a K-12 teacher, mention the institution where you work in your state.

  1. Make a phone call. All Senators can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, a personal phone call is preferable to an email. If you are not sure who your Senators are you can follow this link to the Senate's website. There you will find a list of Senators by state that will link to your Senator's website.
  2. Send an email. NCH, working with our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance, has prepared a one-step link to your Senators office. You simply enter your address and the system identifies your Senator. They've provided an email template that can be edited to personalize your message. The message not only goes to your Senator's email, but their Twitter account and Facebook page as well.

Posted: December 3, 2015
Tagged: News of the Profession, Advocacy


Urge Congress to Support K-12 History Education Today

On December 2, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider the conference report to S. 1177, the "Every Student Succeeds Act." The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the next four years and replaces the much maligned No Child Left Behind Act. Most importantly the legislation includes multiple sources of funding to support improved instruction in K-12 history, civics, geography and economics.

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) urgently needs you to contact your Member of the House of Representatives and urge him or her to support the conference report that includes key provisions that benefit history and civics education. Click here for a link that allows you to send an email directly to your Member of the House of Representatives and urge him or her to support the conference report that includes key provisions that benefit history and civics education.

The House is voting first on S. 1177, the "Every Student Succeeds Act." While the Senate is likely to pass the bill, as you know in recent months the House has gone through a chaotic fight over its leadership. Even though the bill cleared the House-Senate conference committee by an overwhelming bi-partisan majority of 38-1, its passage by the House is by no means a foregone conclusion. Politics unrelated to the underlying merits of the bill may still derail it. So it is vital that all representatives, Republicans and Democrats, receive the message from their constituents that the education of our nation's K-12 students is vitally important and a non-partisan issue.

OAH limits our legislative "action alerts" to situations and issues that are vital to the interests of our constituents. We cannot overstress the importance of this effort! Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA in 15 years so this legislation is our only opportunity to get funding restored for K-12 history and civics education.

The bill is expected to go to the House floor on December 2. Time is of the essence so call or email today!

How to Contact Your Representative

Please call or email your House member's office and urge them to support restoring federal funding for history and civics education. To contact your representative, you can use one of these two options. No matter which means of communication you choose, please personalize your message as to your background or interest in history. If you are employed in the field, especially as a K-12 teacher, mention the institution where you work in your congressional district.

  1. Make a phone call. All Members of Congress can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121. If you feel comfortable doing so, a personal phone call is preferable to an email.If you are not sure who your Representative is you can follow this link to the House's website and enter your zip code which will provide a link to your House member's website: http://www.house.gov/
  2. Send an email. The National Coalition of History (of which the OAH is a member) is working with the National Humanities Alliance which has prepared a one-step link to your House member (click here). You simply enter your address and the system identifies your representative. We've provided an email template that can be edited to personalize your message. The message not only goes to your House member's email, but their Twitter account and Facebook page as well.

Posted: November 30, 2015
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Profession


Action Alert: National Humanities Alliance

Act now to prevent deep cuts to funding for international education.

The Senate has proposed deep cuts to Title VI and Fulbright-Hays.

These programs are crucial for educating U.S. students for our interconnected world and training experts in foreign languages and cultures.

The proposed cut would slash $25 million (35%) from Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, and it has already passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

This comes after a drastic cut in 2010 and would amount to a 63% reduction over five years!

What's at stake?

Click here for more information on Title VI programs and the status of the appropriations process.

Send a message to Congress now.
We need to speak out now to ensure that the Senate bill does not advance any further. The House appropriations committee has already approved funding at the current level. Your voice will help ensure that these crucial international education programs remain intact.

For more information about the National Humanities Alliance, click here.

Posted: August 26, 2015
Tagged: News of the Organization, News of the Profession, Advocacy


Action Alert: Urge Congress to Restore Funding for K-12 History and Civics Education

Negotiations to finalize a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will resume when Congress returns after Labor Day. Members of the House and Senate will be meeting to iron out the differences between the versions of the bill passed by each body. Quite simply, the Senate bill restores federal funding for K-12 history and civics education while the House bill does not.

The Senate version includes four provisions that create funding for high quality American history, civics, geography, and economics education. Some House Majority Conferees, however, have already declared their top priority in conference to be eliminating as many new programs and grants as possible. This poses a direct threat to the Senate provisions that could inject much needed funding into history, civics, and the social studies.

The Organization of American Historians and the National Coalition for History (NCH) urgently need you to contact your member of the House of Representatives. Congressmen Ross (R-FL) and Cicilline (D-RI) have drafted and distributed a sign-on letter urging their colleagues to adopt the history and civics provisions in the Senate's version of the bill. We need your help collecting as many signatures on this "Dear Colleague" letter as possible before September 11th so that this letter can have an important impact on the negotiations.

Please urge your representative to sign the "Dear Colleague" letter supporting key provisions that benefit history and civics education.

Send an email directly to House members!

Follow this link to NCH's website for more information.

We cannot overstress the importance of this effort. Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA in 15 years so this is likely our only opportunity to get funding restored for K-12 history and civics education. Time is of the essence, please act today!

Jon Butler
OAH President 2015-2016
Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies, Yale University
Adjunct Research Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Katherine Finley
Executive Director
Organization of American Historians

Posted: August 21, 2015
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Organization, News of the Profession


OAH LGBTQ Committee Issues Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Obergefell v. Hodges

The Organization of American (OAH) Historians Committee on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Historians and Histories celebrates the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states and making marriage equality a reality. The decision's grounding in historical scholarship and its citation of amicus briefs written and signed by historians, including OAH president-elect Nancy Cott, George Chauncey, and many other OAH members, testifies to the transformative power of writing and teaching history. We hope that this historic decision quickens the momentum toward justice for all people across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, disability, religion, and nationality.

Regina Kunzel, Chair (Princeton University)
Marc Stein (San Francisco State University)
Anne E. Parsons (University of North Carolina, Greensboro)
Leila Rupp (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Nicholas Syrett (University of Northern Colorado)
Karen Halttunen, Executive Board Liaison (University of Southern California)

Posted: June 29, 2015
Tagged: Advocacy, News of the Organization, News of the Profession


U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

In a historic civil rights ruling issued today in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage a right available to all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation. The OAH Executive Board submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petitioners written by historian and OAH member George Chauncey on the history of discrimination against gay men and lesbians in America. This brief was cited specifically by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion in today's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, as was the historical scholarship of OAH president-elect Nancy Cott and other prominent American historians.

Read the OAH LGBTQ Committee statement here.

Read the Supreme Court decision here.

Read the amicus curiae brief here.

Posted: June 26, 2015
Tagged: News of the Organization, News of the Profession, Advocacy


National Coalition of History Updates

Ask your Representative to join the Congressional History Caucus. The caucus aims to provide a forum for members of Congress to share their interest in history and to promote an awareness of the subject on Capitol Hill. It is important for the history community to be seen as a resource by Congress, and we hope to build lasting relationships between members of Congress and historians, archivists, teachers, students, genealogists, researchers, and other stakeholders in their respective districts. The History Caucus will increase the National Coalition for History's visibility and provide a network of supporters in Congress that we can reach out to when issues arise.

Read more about the National Coalition for History here.

Posted: June 8, 2015
Tagged: Advocacy


OAH Members Respond to the Redskins Name Debate

During the business meeting at the 2015 OAH Annual Meeting, members voted to pass the following resolution asking the Washington Redskins to change their name.

The Organization of American Historians hereby adds its voice to the growing demands by Native American organizations, our sister disciplines, and conscientious people of all ethnic backgrounds, to change the name and logo of the Washington "Redskins."

In a subsequent meeting, the OAH Executive Board voted to let the resolution stand as passed by the membership.

Posted: June 6, 2015
Tagged: Advocacy


OAH Executive Committee Issues Statement of Opposition to Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

On Thursday, March 26, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" despite exceptionally strong protests of the Republican Mayor of Indianapolis, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA, headquartered in Indianapolis), Visit Indy (the Indianapolis convention bureau), churches, and many individuals presenting multiple petitions. As the statements of these individuals and groups indicate, the Act does not reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of Indianapolis and Bloomington residents or of Indiana's many other cities that have worked hard to welcome residents of many backgrounds and views, creating a highly diverse state. The OAH Executive Committee has issued the statement below regarding the Act and is writing the Governor and the leaders in the Indiana House and Senate indicating its strong disapproval of this Act.

"The Executive Committee of the Organization of American Historians, headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, strongly urges the Indiana Legislature and Governor Mike Pence to repeal the 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' signed into law March 26, 2015. The Act carries alarming potential for abuse in the form of discrimination on many grounds--religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. The OAH strongly condemns any legislation that can be employed to discriminate against any person, whether on the basis of 'any exercise of religion' or simple personal ethnic or racial prejudice. The OAH Executive Committee urges the immediate repeal of this Act to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all residents of the State of Indiana and visitors to the state."

An article was written in The New York Times on the reactions of Indiana citizens and businesses. That article can be read here.

The Organization of American Historians is an external agency of Indiana University and is housed on the Bloomington, IN campus. The President of IU, Michael McRobbie, issued a statement about the passing of the new law. It can be read here.

In an unusual move, the Indianapolis Star on March 31, 2015 placed an editorial on its front page demanding that this bill be fixed - read more here.

Earlier articles in the Indianapolis Star about the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act":

The text of the new law can be read in full here.

Posted: March 28, 2015
Tagged: News of the Organization, Advocacy


OAH Amicus Brief Filed in Same-Sex Marriage Case

The OAH has submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the same-sex marriage case, James Obergefell, et al. vs. Richard Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Public Health. Written by OAH member George Chauncey, professor of history and American studies at Yale University, the brief focuses on the history of discrimination against gays. Opening oral arguments are expected to be heard in the last week of April, with a decision to be issued the last week of June.

Read the brief in full.

Posted: March 9, 2015
Tagged: News of the Organization, News of the Profession, Advocacy


Historical Organizations React to the AP U.S. History Debate

In recent months, the newly developed framework for the Advanced Placement (AP) in U.S. History exam issued by the College Board has sparked an unexpected controversy. The AP U.S. History exam is meant to provide high school students who have already displayed an advanced level of knowledge in the subject the opportunity to earn college credit at many institutions.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) recently adopted a resolution criticizing the revised versions of the framework and exam, and went so far as to demand a congressional investigation into its development. In addition, conservative organizations have joined the chorus and are engaging in grass roots opposition to the AP framework and exam at the state and local levels. State boards of education are being asked to delay implementation of the exam or scrap it altogether.

The opponents maintain that the teaching of "traditional" American history—e.g., the contributions of the Founding Fathers, and the theme of American exceptionalism—are being deemphasized in the framework in favor of so-called "revisionist history" that paints America in a negative light, rather than emphasizing the iconic "City Upon a Hill" of John Winthrop.

Two conservative groups, American Principles in Action and Concerned Women for America, are leading the fight against the AP history exam and framework. They recently sent a letter to the College Board asking that implementation of the revisions be postponed. The letter states, "The new Framework continues its theme of oppression and conflict by reinterpreting Manifest Destiny from a belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technologies across the continent to something that 'was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority."' They are also trying to tie the framework to the increasingly unpopular Common Core standards in an effort to ensure its demise.

The College Board responded to the criticism by explaining that the framework had been revised in response to demands from educators at the local level wanting greater flexibility in designing their AP courses. The College Board even went so far as to release the fall 2014 practice exam (http://goo.gl/NQW3yb) to allow opponents to see that their criticisms are not borne out by the actual test.

Recently, the National Coalition for History sent a letter to the boards of education in eight states (Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada) supporting the efforts of the College Board in trying to make the AP History framework and exam more flexible and reflect developments in scholarship.

The Organization of American Historians, the National Council for History Education, and the AHA have also issued separate statements on the issue. The NCH's statement is as follows:
NCH Statement on AP US History Exam

The National Coalition for History (NCH) is a consortium of over 55 organizations that advocates on federal legislative and regulatory issues. The coalition is made up of diverse groups representing historians, archivists, researchers, teachers, students, political scientists, museum professionals, genealogists, and other stakeholders. Several of NCH's members are national groups with missions centered solely on history education. NCH is writing to express our concerns over the current controversy surrounding the issuance of the new framework for the Advanced Placement (AP) in U.S. History exam issued by the College Board.

Critics of the new framework contend that its authors are engaging in "revisionist history" that leaves out the contributions of major historical figures and paints America in a negative light. Disagreement over the interpretation of history is inevitable and healthy. History is, by its very nature, evolving. Thanks to the energetic work of historians exploring archives and engaging in a process of discovery, we are constantly enriching our understanding of the past and our recognition of the significance of our predecessors. New sources of information sharpen our knowledge of the conditions our founding fathers and every succeeding generation faced and the decisions they made. History textbooks read by previous generations of students have been rendered nearly obsolete by new questions demanding answers and fresh knowledge with which to answer them.

While different takes on the past may engender honest disagreement and debate, we can all agree about the need for a responsible process to establish and implement educational goals. The AP History framework was developed over a 7-year period by professionals of good faith and goodwill in the field and peer reviewed by a diverse group of four hundred high school AP history teachers and fifty-three college professors with expertise in U.S. history. It is a framework that offers expert guidance while providing individual teachers with flexibility to adapt their AP courses to state standards and local concerns.

There is ample room for thus: of all political persuasions and educational philosophies to work together in a collaborative spirit to provide the next generation of Americans with a first-rate education in the humanities and social sciences, especially in American history. In 2013, at the behest of Congress, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences issued a report on "the importance of the humanities and social sciences to the future of our nation." The report underscored how our nation's founders knew that a "government bound by law and rooted in the consent of the governed—depends on citizens who can think critically, understand their own history, and give voice to their beliefs while respecting the views of others."

We are all in favor of an educational system that yields such an informed citizenry capable of respecting a wide range of perspectives on the past. Careful reading of the standards suggests that much of the material that critics fear has been excluded has in fact been incorporated into the AP History Framework. There is also ample opportunity for professional educators to include material that is of particular concern in their states and communities. The prudent integration of critical thinking skills with state-of-the art historical knowledge in the framework nurtures in our students a lively, thoughtful dialogue with the past.

As Americans and as educators, we share the goal of ensuring that high school students receive the well-rounded education that will make them ready for "college, career, and citizenship" upon graduation. Rather than a rejection of tradition, the new AP framework builds on our profession's long-standing commitment to encourage and cultivate in students the ability to contextualize information and to create and analyze arguments based on evidence. These critical skills in historical thinking are valuable tools that students will apply to their subjects—and to their lives. Employers often declare that these are some of the essential skills they seek when appraising job candidates. The AP revisions aim at the enhancement of precisely those skills.

The National Coalition for History supports the College Board's new framework. While no document is perfect, the current guidelines are an important step forward in helping teachers to prepare future citizens for a twenty-first-century global economy.

Read the OAH Statement on the AP Test


Lee White is the executive director of the National Coalition for History. Sign up to receive the National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, a weekly electronic newsletter that provides information on legislation, hearings, markups, and regulatory issues of concern to historians, archivists, and other stakeholders.

Posted: October 24, 2014
Tagged: Advocacy


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