The AHA’s Summer Advocacy
Over the past few months, the AHA has signed on to letters advocating for foreign language education programing and opposing the closure of the Environmental Protection Agency’s digital archive, endorsed the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act, and released a joint statement regarding the use of history in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The AHA also continued to advocate for history educators and students through the Teaching History with Integrity initiative.
AHA Signs On to Letter Advocating for Title VI Funding
On May 31, the AHA signed on to a letter to Congress from the Coalition for International Education urging stronger funding for the US Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education programs, including HEA–Title IV programs and Fulbright-Hays programs. “Many more programs would be made available to address the nation’s critical needs for advanced fluency in foreign languages, world regions and international business,” the letter states. “Students from all racial and socio-economic backgrounds would have more opportunities to obtain the international experience and skills in growing demand across a wide range of professional and technical fields impacting our global engagement, security and competitiveness.”
AHA Signs On to ASEH Letter Opposing Closure of EPA Digital Archive
On June 14, the AHA signed on to a letter from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to sunset its online archive in July 2022. In addition to being “immensely useful to environmental historians,” ASEH writes, “[t]he site has provided resources for others working in ecology, biology, toxicology, and other environmental sciences as well as geography, law, sociology, political science, and public health. . . . Not least among those who have relied on the EPA’s online archive are those working with and living in more marginalized or environmental justice communities, a stated priority of current EPA leadership.”
AHA Endorses LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act
On June 23, the AHA formally endorsed the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act, a bill that “ensures that lawmakers and federal agencies have the comprehensive data they need to advance policies that better serve LGBTQI+ people.” “Full equality and sound policy can only be achieved when we count all members of our community,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), who introduced the legislation. “Lawmakers and agencies are one step closer to finally having comprehensive data to craft better policies to remedy and address the disparities faced by LGBTQI+ individuals—particularly people of color—to ensure their needs are met.” The bill passed the House of Representatives on June 23 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on July 11.
History, the Supreme Court, and Dobbs v. Jackson: Joint Statement from the AHA and the OAH
On July 6, the AHA and the Organization of American Historians issued a joint statement expressing dismay that the US Supreme Court “declined to take seriously the historical claims of our [amicus curiae] brief” in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. “Instead, the court adopted a flawed interpretation of abortion criminalization that has been pressed by anti-abortion advocates for more than 30 years. . . . These misrepresentations are now enshrined in a text that becomes authoritative for legal reference and citation in the future. The court’s decision erodes fundamental rights and has the potential to exacerbate historic injustices and deepen inequalities in our country.” As of August 1, 30 organizations have signed on to the statement.
AHA’s Teaching History with Integrity Initiative Adds Multiple Advocacy and Research Missions
The AHA’s Teaching History with Integrity initiative provides resources and support for history educators facing intensifying controversies about the teaching of the American past. Historians have a crucial role to play as participants in public deliberations about how to engage students in honest and evidence-based inquiry in history classrooms. Teaching History with Integrity includes ongoing advocacy and research initiatives and projects, from writing letters to state legislatures to compiling a comprehensive report on the landscape of secondary US history education.
The Freedom to Learn initiative, part of Teaching History with Integrity, educates historians and others on how to advocate for honest history education, responds directly to the “divisive concepts” bills that seek to limit history education, and creates resources to help teachers directly affected by these bills think about how to maintain the integrity of their history courses. As of August, the AHA has sent letters to 18 state legislatures and school districts in 2022.
In the AHA-produced videos “Teaching with Integrity: Historians Speak,” historians describe how exploring America’s past honestly in the classroom benefits the nation’s students, and how the freedom to learn also strengthens our shared democracy.
The research portion of Teaching History with Integrity initiative is Mapping the Landscape of Secondary US History Education, which will combine analysis of published content standards and curriculum guidelines with interviews and surveys of administrators and educators nationwide at the state and district levels. The resulting report aspires to provide an accurate picture of the landscape of secondary US history education across the United States.
The AHA also has ongoing partnerships with organizations that emphasize the importance of teaching honest history. The AHA has been privileged to participate in PEN America’s series Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture, and Society, which presents the history of free speech in American democracy to public audiences around the United States.
The AHA is an inaugural partner of Learn from History, a coalition of 40 organizations that oppose efforts to limit the ability of educators to maintain the scholarly integrity of courses in US history. Among other resources, Learn from History offers toolkits for school system leaders, parents, teachers, and school board members.
For more information about the Teaching History with Integrity initiative and its projects, please visit historians.org/THWI.
Alexandra F. Levy is communications manager at the AHA; she tweets at @AlexandraFL21. Rebecca L. West is operations and communications assistant at the AHA; she tweets @rebeckawest.
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