The AAG has been heavily engaged in recent weeks as Congress gears up for the reauthorization of the ESEA. We have submitted formal comments on the reauthorization to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. We have also been responding to many requests for information from various members of Congress and we have also engaged with the Obama Administration regarding their Blueprint on the Reauthorization [PDF]. In response to this document and as mentioned above, we are working on developing an AAG Blueprint for Georgraphy Education. View a draft AAG Blueprint. We view our Blueprint as a living document and would welcome comments.
Separately, the AAG has taken the initiative to develop, circulate, and work together collaboratively with fifteen other national geography and GIS organizations to receive formal endorsement for an AAG resolution supporting K-12 geography education, and urging Congress to include geography education in several pending federal proposals, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind), and the Teaching Geography is Fundamental (TGIF) proposal. View the AAG Geography Education Resolution.
The organizations that have endorsed the resolution to this point are: American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM); American Geographical Society (AGS), American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS); Council of Geospatial Organizations (COGO); Geographic Information Systems Certification Institute (GISCI); Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA); International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO); Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS); National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC); United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF); University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS); and Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Collectively, these organizations represent hundreds of thousands of people in the geography and GIS communities.
We will continue to enlist other endorsers of this resolution through the geographic community. We are excited to announce that Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) has introduced the AAG resolution for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives [PDF]. We will work with Rep. Ruppersberger and our other friends in Congress to seek additional support.
For more information, see "Educating Congress on Geography Education" in the July/August 2007 AAG Newsletter, and the resources listed below for regular updates.
- Educating Congress on Geography Education
- How You Can Help
- Who to Contact
- Another Key Legislative Initiative (Teaching Geography is Fundamental)
- Background on the Ongoing NCLB Reathorization Process
- Additional Resources and Updates
We urge you to write your Congressional representatives to provide your opinion regarding geography education funding and implementation programs for NCLB. Congressional leaders need to understand that geography is essential to a well-rounded K-12 education. Some key points which might be helpful to share with your representatives include the following:
- Funding geography in NCLB is critical: Geography is the only core-curriculum subject identified in the ESEA without associated funding. This must change if students are to make the necessary strides in geographic understanding.
- Implementing programs for geography are also needed: Geography also lacks any specified implementing programs in NCLB. These programs should help implement more widespread teaching of geography in elementary and secondary schools.
- Geography is essential to a well-rounded K-12 education: Geographic understanding is important to every American - it is critical to the informed exercise of each citizen’s civic responsibility. Geography helps us understand the connections between people and places- and with the natural environment. Geography education is key to achieving international understanding and economic development, and also provides essential workforce skills needed to maintain U.S. competitiveness. The study of geography enables students to access the explanatory power of maps and increasingly ubiquitous geospatial technologies - such as geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and internet mapping. Geography helps us to understand and enhance our own communities as American citizens - and informs our understanding of the challenges facing the United States in an uncertain world.
While we urge you to contact all of your Senators and Representatives about this important topic, the following members serve on the Congressional Committees with jurisdiction over NCLB. If you are from the same state as one of these individuals or have some tie to their office, please also consider sending a letter to their office. View the list of committee members and contact information.
Two related bills have been introduced in Congress that would also serve to promote geography education. The Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (S. 749 and H.R. 1240) has been introduced in both houses of Congress, thanks largely to the supportive work of the National Geographic Society. The AAG supports these bills and is heartened that numerous sponsors have signed on in each House of Congress. We urge you to support these bills, either on their own, or as part of NCLB reauthorization process, as well.