ESEA Reauthorization – Action Alert

An important letter from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) regarding authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):

Dear AAG Members:

As many of you are aware, the AAG has been working diligently in recent years to promote the message that the next enacted version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) should include a specific funding authorization for K-12 geography education.  Geography is specified as one of nine core academic subjects in the existing law but is the only one that does not have a dedicated funding stream.

We wrote to you a few months ago to let you know that Congress was considering a reauthorization of the ESEA, which is currently known as No Child Left Behind.  We have received many positive responses and heard from several individuals who reached out to their members of Congress.

– Action Alert –

We at the Association have had continuous interactions with Senators and staff members recently, and we have learned that the Senate Education Committee plans to mark up an ESEA reauthorization bill this week.  The good news is that, unlike early versions of the Committee’s legislation, geography is now named in the bill as a core academic subject, eligible for funding under the proposed bill.

One major dynamic that has impacted the composition of the draft legislation is a desire on the part of Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to streamline federal education funds into flexible block grants for states to apportion as they see fit.  While we will continue to stress the importance of dedicated national funding for K-12 geography, this new approach does present an opportunity for individual states to use these large block grants to fund geography in their K-12 education programs.  Regardless, the legislative process is far from concluded and we will continue to engage with Congressional leaders to promote the importance of funding geography-education initiatives as part of the ESEA.

In sharing our message with Congress, we have been using the “AAG Resolution Supporting K-12 Geography Education,” which we began circulating in 2010 and calls for funding of K-12 geography in the ESEA.  We also urge the Administration to include geography and geospatial education in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) proposals.  The AAG Resolution has been endorsed by four former U.S. Secretaries of State; 22 incumbent state Governors; 25 Fortune 500 companies; and many other prominent individuals and organizations (see: www.aag.org/resolution).  You may find this AAG Resolution useful in making your position on these issues known to your Congressional representatives.

We always encourage AAG members to contact your Senators and Representative to express your views on issues of importance.  The links below provide information about contacting members of Congress through the phone or internet. AAG members may also wish to use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, to share their perspectives with elected officials, friends, colleagues, and the wider community.

Contact information for all U.S. Senators can be found at: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

You can locate your member of the House of Representatives by going to:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

If you have any questions, please contact John Wertman, the AAG’s Senior Program Manager for Government Relations, at , or Doug Richardson, AAG Executive Director, at .

Thank you,

Douglas Richardson and John Wertman