AHA staff have testified before state legislatures and boards of education in support of the teaching of honest history.

 

Scot McFarlane, Maine Department of Education

AHA researcher Scot McFarlane testified on behalf of the AHA to the Maine Department of Education regarding the state’s current social studies standards. In a public hearing in Augusta on April 29, McFarlane will share prepared remarks. “Maine’s social studies standards… emphasize skills with little specificity about content. This is a missed opportunity. State-level social studies standards can help teachers engage their students by placing local, state, and regional history in a context that connects to national and global themes,” his testimony states. “Good, history-rich standards can guide parents, teachers, and school administrators as they prepare future generations of Maine students for success in a complex and interconnected world.”

Julia Brookins, Texas House of Representatives Higher Education Committee

May 8, 2023

AHA special projects coordinator Julia Brookins testified before the Texas House of Representatives Higher Education Committee on behalf of the American Historical Association in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 18, which would eliminate tenure at public institutions in the state. “As a citizen, I value dearly the existence of tenure and the public benefit it provides me, my family, and everyone else by allowing time and political space for scholars to seek truths that advance human knowledge,” Brookins said. “[This bill] is a big, flashy distraction. It will not address any of the actual challenges that higher education institutions need to confront.”

Julia Brookins, Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education

April 6, 2023

AHA special projects coordinator Julia Brookins testified before the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education on behalf of the AHA in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 17. “This bill would not only enable but require new classroom-level intervention by boards whose expertise and responsibilities lie elsewhere,” Brookins said. “This requirement represents a level of surveillance and implied censorship that has no place in a republic noted for its admirable commitment to academic freedom and innovation. . . . SB 17 is not only a danger to the quality of history education, it poses a threat to public higher education itself.”

Brendan Gillis, Virginia Board of Education

February 2, 2023

Brendan J. Gillis, manager of teaching and learning at the American Historical Association, testified before the Virginia Board of Education’s hearing on the history and social studies standards revisions process. Gillis testified in support of the collaborative Combined History and Social Science Standards for Virginia developed by the AHA, the Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium, and the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Julia Brookins, Texas State Board of Education

August 30, 2022

AHA special projects coordinator Julia Brookins provided testimony at a meeting of the Texas State Board of Education regarding proposed revisions to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies. “Learning to do history gives students powerful examples of individual agency and decision-making and it teaches them to see larger patterns in human societies. They can recognize not just commonalities but also fundamental, almost unimaginable differences in human experiences across time and place. This will expand their vision and help them live well in today’s world,” Brookins said. “The students of Texas deserve good lists of great thinkers, but much more than that, they need to learn how to think. I hope this body will focus on that. Indulging authoritarian impulses, whether they come from parents, voters, or state officials, is not the way to get Texas students ready for the marketplace of ideas. You cannot censor your way to great schools.” Brookins’ testimony begins at 1:49:15 of Part 1.

Julia Brookins, Texas State Board of Education

August 1, 2022

AHA special projects coordinator Julia Brookins provided testimony at a special meeting of the Texas State Board of Education regarding proposed revisions to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies. “Texas history and the histories that you are considering here really have a lifelong impact on a lot of people,” Brookins said. “The drafts could continue to use review by scholars in each of the major subject areas, in particular for factual accuracy. . . . I recommend that the Board ask the work groups to revisit that language and I encourage . . . the integration of social studies practices into the actual course outcomes.” Brookins’ testimony begins at 2:41:16 of Part 2.

Julia Brookins, Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs

July 15, 2022

AHA special projects coordinator Julia Brookins provided testimony to the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs about SB 3, a bill restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts” in Texas classrooms. “Senate Bill 3 is a continuation of a sloppy exercise in government overreach that will only exacerbate the harm caused by HB 3979 from this year’s regular session,” Brookins said. “I believe that learning about the less admirable aspects of the nation’s past is important to informed citizenship. As the founders themselves knew and stated, only an informed citizenry can sustain self-government.” The AHA also wrote to Texas governor Greg Abbott and the Texas legislature in August urging them to oppose the bill. Brookins’ testimony begins at 3:32:00 of the video.