Overview from Catriona Macdonald:
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which will replace No Child Left Behind. The Senate is expected to vote on and pass the same bill this coming Tuesday. From there, it will be sent to the President, who is expected to sign it.
The legislation re-writes federally funded K-12 education programs.
And there is good news for the social studies! The bill contains multiple funding sources for history, civics, economics and geography.
As you know, all designated funding for the social studies was eliminated five years ago when the ban on Congressional earmarks was enacted. A small grant awarded to the Center for Civic Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development program this year represents the entire federal contribution to effective instruction in the social studies in five years. But with ESSA, that can change.
Specifically, ESSA creates:
- a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to run intensive, 2 to 6 week long academies in American history, civics and government for high school students and for teachers.
- a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to offering high quality instruction in American history, civics, government and geography for underserved students.
- local education agencies (ie, school districts) are required to use a certain percentage of their federal money on coursework that supports a well-rounded education. LEAs can choose from a list of subjects that includes history, civics, economics and geography as well as foreign languages, the arts, and other subjects.
- a new research and innovation fund is created that allows LEAs, in conjunction with non profit 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 social studies are eligible for grants.
So what happens next?
- First, the legislation has to be passed in the Senate and signed into law by the President.
- Next, the programs authorized in the legislation have to be funded by the appropriations committee. NCSS will be sending alerts in February, when the appropriations process begins, asking everyone who cares about the social studies to contact their Senators and Representatives to urge full funding for the social studies education programs that were created in ESSA. If the grant programs are on the books, but they aren’t funded, then (obviously) there won’t be any grants.
- Funding decisions will be made by October 2016. That means that the first grants are likely to be awarded in calendar year 2017.
- 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.
- 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 may change that timetable a little bit
National Council for the Social Studies
Silver Spring MD