“[F]unding for the Teaching American History grants program, which has supplied more than $1 billion over the past decade for school districts and their nonprofit partners, is being reduced from $119 million in fiscal 2010 to $46 million in the current year...
A variety of history educators give the program high marks, saying it’s been influential in improving instruction...[b]ut a federal evaluation in 2005 offered a mixed review of the program. For example, it said the projects examined showed ‘some, but not all, of the research-based characteristics of effective professional development.’
Also, while the work products, such as lesson plans and research papers, teachers produced as part of their participation demonstrated ‘a firm grasp of historical facts, ... they had difficulty interpreting and analyzing historical information.’
In any case, Kimberley Warrick, a curriculum specialist for a group of districts in Georgia, said her past participation as a Montana teacher in programs supported by the Teaching American History grants was transformative.”
So I wondered how many of you have participated in TAH programs, and how valuable you found them. Were they transformative? What worked and what didn’t? And what impact do you think the reduction in funding for these programs (for this year, and for possible future reductions) will have on professional development for history teachers and on history teaching in coming years?
It is profoundly disappointing that Congress has pulled the plug on the Teaching American History grant program. While I was writing prospective applications for one to serve rural teachers, word kept cropping up that there would be major cuts to the program largely due to the fact that many in Congress were on the opinion that Federal dollars were being spent subsidizing teacher vacations to various destinations around the country - despite the pertinent fact that these "vacations" were nothing of the sort and were to the numerous and diverse historical landmarks and research facilities around the country where teachers could not only meet with colleagues from all over with whom to discuss history and how best to teach it, but also they could receive exceptional hands-on training within an historical context that cannot be replicated with even the most complete online resource or book or video. Perhaps, sometime soon, there will come a time when someone in Congress will have the clout to restore the TAH program and see that it is funded for decades to come.