Publication Date

April 1, 1991

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

The Bill of Rights Education Collaborative (BREC) is pleased to announce the awarding of over $400,000 in regrants for projects designed to strengthen teaching and learning about constitutional rights as we approach the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights. The collaborative is a joint project of the AHA and the American Political Science Association, with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Kermit L. Hall, University of Florida, chairs the project’s governing board, which includes Earl P. Bell, University of Chicago Lab Schools; Rosanne Butler, National Archives and Records Administration; Todd Clark, Constitutional Rights Foundation; Claudia Collier-Seiter, Layton High School; William J. Daniels, Rochester Institute of Technology; Kathleen Dilonardo, Independence National Historical Park; Cynthia E. Harrison, Federal Judicial Center; Mary Hepburn, University of Georgia; Cynthia J. Little, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; John J. Patrick, Indiana University; and Jamil Zainaldin, Federation of State Humanities Councils. The honorary chair is Warren E. Burger, former Chief Justice of the United States.

BREC’s funding initiatives fall under three basic categories: competitions directly administered by it, competitions in collaboration with other organizations, and regrants for special projects. In selecting projects for funding, the BREC governing board’s priorities are intellectual clarity and coherence and evidence of active collaboration among diverse individuals, groups, and institutions.

At its February meeting, the governing board made awards in the competitions it administers: grants to conduct short courses for teachers, mini grants for teachers, and grants to state humanities councils for teacher-centered public programming. The short course competition is for collaborative programs designed to provide, in weekend meetings scheduled over a span of six to twelve months, intensive opportunities for teachers to examine topics in constitutional rights and strategies for teaching these topics. Seven such programs have been funded in the first competition:

  1. “The Bill of Rights and the States,” Carleton College
  2. “Celebrating the Bill of Rights: Civil Liberties at Home and Abroad,” Texas Tech University
  3. “Short Course on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties,” Connecticut Consortium for Law-Related Education, Inc. and the University of Hartford’s Museum of American Political Life
  4. “The First Amendment, Religion, and American Society,” Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia
  5. “New Jersey and the Bill of Rights,” Institute for Secondary Teachers, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis
  6. “Teaching about First Amendment Freedoms,” Project LEGAL, Inc. and Syracuse University
  7. “Constitutions in Comparative Perspective: The Protection of Rights in a Global Context,” University of Wisconsin, Marathon Center (Wausau)

The mini-grant competition gives teachers funds for their own projects dedicated to constitutional rights. Relatively few proposals were submitted in the competition, but the board agreed to fund three exemplary projects:

  1. “The Bill of Rights Lives…In Our Community,” Colleen Eichelman, Dorothy Turley, and Rita Glass, McMillan Junior High School, Omaha, Nebraska
  2. “The Internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” Edward Duba, Canajoharie Central School, Canajoharie, New York
  3. “Twentieth-Century Constitutional Rights,” Robert Reichel, Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis, Indiana

The third BREC-administered competition is for grants to state humanities councils for collaborative programs that provide opportunities for teachers to share their substantive and technical expertise outside the schools with the larger communities in which they live and work. The governing board agreed to fund in this round proposals from six state councils:

  1. Arizona Humanities Council
  2. Idaho Humanities Council
  3. Missouri Humanities Council
  4. New Hampshire Humanities Council
  5. Pennsylvania Humanities Council
  6. South Dakota Committee on the Humanities

The second broad category of funding initiatives consists of competitions funded by BREC but administered by other organizations. Specifically, BREC has regranted funds to the History Teaching Alliance to fund collegially designed two- to three-week, content-based seminars and to the National Council for the Social Studies to fund collaborative in-service projects for teachers. The awards are now being made in both of those competitions, and we will publish lists of recipients in the May-June issue of this newsletter.

Finally, BREC regrants funds for special projects. The Organization of American Historians was awarded a grant to support publication of a special issue of the Magazine of History, and the Social Studies Development Center at Indiana University has received support for publication of its Bill of Rights Guide, a volume of essays and lessons. BREC is funding three initiatives developed by the Philadelphia Alliance for Teaching Humanities in the Schools: a directed research program for teachers on comparative rights within a global context, a regional symposium to disseminate materials produced in programs funded by BREC and the U.S. Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, and an innovative year-long sustained partnership between teachers and students in three Philadelphia middle schools and three Philadelphia cultural institutions with significant rights-related collections.

BREC expects to award an additional $250,000 in regrants in a second round of competition for the short courses, mini-grants, and state humanities council projects. The deadline for submission of proposals will be August 15, 1991, with notification of awards by October 1, 1991. For additional information on these three initiatives, contact: The Bill of Rights Education Collaborative, 1527 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202/483-2512.