AHA Collaborates on Learning Standards and Advocates for Academic Freedom and Funding
Over the winter, the AHA wrote a letter to Marymount University opposing the proposed elimination of its history major, as well as a letter urging the US State Department to assist in the safe return of an abducted prominent Haitian historian. The Association signed on to letters urging Congress to fund foundational Title VI programs and opposing the nomination of appointees to the New College of Florida governing board who would threaten the institution’s academic freedom. After expressing concern in October about the revisions process for the Virginia Board of Education’s proposed history and social science standards, the AHA collaborated with Virginia education organizations on a new draft.
AHA Collaborates on Proposed Virginia History and Social Science Draft Standards
In December 2022, the AHA, the Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium, and the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development “collaborated to share their collective knowledge, experience, and expertise” to draft proposed history and social science standards for K–12 schools. This draft responds to the Virginia Board of Education’s determination at its November meeting that neither of the two documents on the table was satisfactory; a new draft was needed that would combine the two proposals with reference to the existing standards, adopted in 2015.
On February 2, AHA manager of teaching and learning Brendan Gillis testified in support of the collaborative standards at the Virginia Department of Education’s hearing on the history and social studies standards revisions process. The AHA also submitted comments on the draft standards and shared action alerts with Virginia members encouraging testimony.
AHA Signs On to Letter Urging Title VI Funding for 2023
On January 11, the AHA signed on to a letter from the Coalition for International Education asking leaders in the US Senate and House of Representatives for “robust funding for HEA-Title VI, International Education, and Fulbright-Hays programs.” In addition to “strengthen[ing] the key Title VI foundational programs that address the nation’s critical and expanding needs for deep expertise in foreign languages, world regions and international business,” the letter states, this funding “will incentivize research and innovation in US international education capacity, organization and delivery to meet 21st century challenges, as well as expand international and foreign language education to traditionally underserved students and institutions.”
AHA Signs On to AAA Letter Opposing Appointees to New College of Florida Governing Board
On January 23, the AHA signed on to a letter from the American Anthropological Association (AAA) opposing Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s appointment of six new members to the New College of Florida governing board. These appointees, the letter states, “are ideologically motivated and their only apparent interest in the institution is political. The brazen aspiration of transforming a nationally ranked public honors college into a college along the lines of the private evangelical Christian Hillsdale College is especially alarming and appears to be nothing more than an orchestrated attack on academic integrity.”
AHA Sends Letters Opposing Proposed Elimination of History Major at Marymount University
On January 24, the AHA sent letters to Marymount University president Irma Becerra, provost Hesham El-Rewini, Faculty Council president Sarah Ficke, and Board of Trustees chair Edward Bersoff opposing the proposed elimination of the history major at the university. “The AHA has seen this approach to prioritization and restructuring before, and the results have been detrimental to students. . . . Overwhelming evidence shows that employers seek the kind of skills a history degree can provide,” the AHA wrote. “This elimination is an especially wrongheaded shift at a time when civic leaders from all corners of the political landscape have lamented the lack of historical knowledge of American citizens. Offering a history major is standard at comprehensive universities, and the elimination of the history major would place Marymount far outside the mainstream of its peer institutions.”
AHA Sends Letter to US Secretary of State Urging Assistance with Safe Return of Pierre Buteau
On January 27, the AHA sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken regarding the January 24 abduction of Professor Pierre Buteau, president of the Société Haïtienne d’Histoire, de Géographie et de Géologie. “We recognize that the crisis of domestic insecurity in Haiti goes well beyond the fate of a single individual,” the AHA wrote. “Understanding Haiti’s history is an essential element of any viable long-term response to this crisis, and Professor Buteau has devoted his professional life to bringing such understanding to bear on the challenge of re-founding a democratic state in his native land. On behalf of the American historical community, we appeal to you to use your good offices at this difficult time in Haiti’s history to do whatever is possible to help secure the safe release of Professor Buteau.” Buteau was freed on February 1.
Rebecca L. West is operations and communications assistant at the AHA. She tweets @rebeckawest.
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