Leadership Symposium: Early Bird Pricing Ends March 24 | Register Now
School & District Management

History, Civics Education Part of Sen. Byrd’s Legacy

By Erik W. Robelen & Alyson Klein — July 12, 2010 1 min read
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., is pictured with an American bald eagle, "Challenger," on Capitol Hill in 2007. The occasion was the announcement of a resolution for American Eagle Day, celebrating the recovery and restoration of the U.S. national symbol.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who died June 28 at the age of 92 after 51 years in the U.S. Senate, leaves as part of his legacy programs born of his passionate advocacy of history and civics education.

Sen. Byrd, a Democrat who was known for carrying a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket, pushed through legislation in 2004 requiring that public schools and colleges receiving federal aid conduct educational programs about the document each year on or near Sept. 17, the date the charter was approved by the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

The longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, the Senate’s president pro tempore, and a former majority leader of the chamber, Sen. Byrd also left his imprint through other education-related programs. They include the Teaching American History grants program, created in 2001, which supports teacher professional development in that subject, and the Byrd Honors Scholarship Program, which annually provides $40 million in merit-based scholarships for high school students.

Sen. Byrd was a fierce defender of his priorities. Earlier this year, for example, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan proposed a sweeping consolidation of programs— including the $119 million Teaching American History program—as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s still-pending fiscal 2011 budget request. That drew strong opposition from Mr. Byrd.

“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.”

Numerous times over the years, Sen. Byrd also proposed constitutional amendments that would guarantee students the right to pray voluntarily in schools. In introducing one such proposal in 2006, he cited rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that he said “have been moving closer and closer to prohibiting the free exercise of religion in America.”

Related Tags:

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of Education Week as History, Civics Education Element of Byrd’s Legacy


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Special Education Webinar
Big Goals, Small Start: Building MTSS to Scale
MTSS is a powerful framework for supporting student success, but implementation can be challenging. Learn from districts about their MTSS success stories and challenges.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Exploring Staff Shortage Impact on Education
Learn about the impact of staff shortages, changing roles of educators, and how technology supports teachers & students.
Content provided by Promethean
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Assessment Webinar
Improving Outcomes on State Assessments with Data-Driven Strategies
State testing is around the corner! Join us as we discuss how teachers can use formative data to drive improved outcomes on state assessments.
Content provided by Instructure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management MAP: Where School Employees Can and Can't Strike
See which states do and don't allow public school employees to go on strike.
2 min read
Amy Chapman and her daughter, first grader Corinne Anderson, pose for a photo while they support teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.
Amy Chapman and her daughter, 1st grader Corinne Anderson, show support for teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 24, 2022.
Samantha Hendrickson/AP
School & District Management Opinion How to Build a More Effective School Board
Board members are well-intentioned, but they've been mis-trained into focusing on adult inputs rather than student needs.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management What's Behind Texas' Takeover of Houston Schools
State takeovers of districts began in the 1980s but have waned recently following limited evidence of academic benefit.
5 min read
People stand in a row outside while holding signs that say "stop takeover," "hands off our schools," and "no HISD take over."
People hold up signs at a March news conference in Houston while protesting the planned takeover of the city's school district by the Texas Education Agency.
Juan A. Lozano/AP
School & District Management Superintendents' Salaries and Their Plans for Next Year, in Charts
A new survey offers a glimpse into the state of the superintendency, as some reports suggest turnover is on the rise.
1 min read
Close up of Benjamin Franklin's face on the one hundred dollar bill peeking out from behind a white curled up paper
iStock/Getty Images Plus