Sen. Byrd Championed History and Civics Education

By Erik W. Robelen — June 28, 2010 1 min read
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With lots of news analysis rolling out to assess the legacy of Sen. Robert Byrd following his death today, I wanted to highlight his role as a leading champion of history and civics education.

In fact, the West Virginia Democrat led the drive to create the $119 million Teaching American History grants program. Created in 2001, it supports teacher professional development in that subject.

In an EdWeek story earlier this year about the Obama administration’s proposal to consolidate a variety of education programs, I quote a statement from Sen. Byrd in opposition.

“I am gravely concerned about the administration’s decision to eliminate the Teaching American History grant program and roll its contents into a much broader educational concept,” Sen. Byrd said in a statement. “In doing so, I believe our students’ understanding of our rich history will suffer.”

Sen. Byrd also successfully pushed legislation that requires public schools and colleges each year to spend a day, on or near the date of the Constitution’s final signing on Sept. 17, 1787, to conduct educational programs about the document.

My colleague Alyson Klein also just blogged about Sen. Byrd over at Politics K-12.

Photo of Sen. Robert Byrd by Charles Dharapak/AP-File

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.