From the Coalition Column of the November 2010 issue of Perspectives on History

News Briefs, November 2010

Lee White, November 2010

Congress Delays Consideration of Fiscal 2011 Budget

The U.S. Congress recessed for the fall elections without passing any of the 12 individual fiscal 2011 appropriations bills. Fiscal year 2011 began on October 1. The Congress passed a continuing resolution to temporarily fund federal agencies until early December at fiscal 2010 levels.

President Obama will send his proposed fiscal 2012 budget to Congress in early February. No matter which party controls Congress, severe cuts are anticipated in discretionary, nondefense-related spending. This does not bode well for funding of programs of interest to the historical and archival communities.

Teaching American History Grants Awarded

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced the award of $115.3 million to 124 school districts to improve the quality of teaching American history in our nation’s schools. For a list of grantees, visit the Department of Education’s web site at www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-secretary-duncan-announces-1153-million-124-grants-improve-teaching-am.

The Teaching American History grant program aims to enhance teachers’ understanding of American history through intensive professional development, including study trips to historic sites and mentoring with professional historians and other experts. Projects are required to partner with organizations that have broad knowledge of American history, such as libraries, museums, nonprofit historical or humanities organizations, and higher education institutions.

History is one of the core academic subjects under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Teaching American History grants are funded for a three-year period. They will be awarded to school districts in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa.

NPS Awards Battlefield Protection Grants

The National Park Service recently awarded $1.2 million for 25 grants that will be used to help preserve and protect America’s significant battlefield lands. The funding from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) will support projects at more than 100 battlefields nationwide. A list of the projects is available online at www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp.

The grants fund projects at endangered battlefields from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War, World War II, and Indian Wars. Grants were made to projects in 17 states and territories to support archeology, mapping, cultural resource survey work, documentation, planning, education, and interpretation.

Priority was given to the preservation of nationally significant battlefields. The majority of grants were given to battlefields listed as Priority I or II sites in the National Park Service’s Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields and the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States.

Gambling Casino in Gettysburg Opposed

On August 31, the Pennsylvania Gaming Board held a public hearing on a proposal to license a casino located one-half mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park. The Civil War Preservation Trust asked NCH to publicize the hearing and urge historians and other concerned citizens to contact the Gaming Board in advance of the hearing to express their opposition to this misguided use of land so close to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg.

More public hearings are scheduled for the middle of November, with a final decision on the license expected by the end of the year or early 2011.

On July 1, 276 American historians sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in opposition to a proposal to license a casino located one-half mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park. Beyond the individual signatories, the American Historical Association, National Coalition for History, National Council on Public History, Organization of American Historians, Society for Military History and Southern Historical Association sent a separate letter of opposition to the Gaming Board.

Although the proposed casino site along the Emmitsburg Road lies outside the current administrative boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park, it would be situated on land identified as historically sensitive by the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of the National Park Service. The application before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board would retrofit an existing family-friendly hotel complex into a gambling resort with an initial 600 slot machines in addition to table games.

—Lee White is the executive director of the National Coalition for History. He expresses his gratitude to the National Security Archive and the Associated Press, on whose reports he has heavily relied for writing this article. He can be reached at lwhite@nationalhistorycoalition.org.