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.

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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,

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 Principals and Stress: Strategies for Coping in Difficult Times
Running schools in the pandemic has strained leaders in unprecedented ways. Principals share their ideas for how to manage the stress.
6 min read
Illustration of calm woman working at desk
School & District Management Wanted: Superintendents to Lead Districts Through the End of a Pandemic
Former superintendents say there are signs when it's time to move on. Their replacements are more likely to be greenhorns, experts say.
4 min read
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner speaks at a news conference at the school district headquarters in Los Angeles on March 13, 2020. Beutner will step down as superintendent after his contract ends in June, he announced Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Austin Beutner, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, will step down after his contract ends in June.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
School & District Management Has COVID-19 Led to a Mass Exodus of Superintendents?
This year has been exhausting for superintendents. Some experts say they're seeing an unusually high number of resignations this spring.
5 min read
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, speaks on Feb. 11, 2021, during a news conference at the William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago. In-person learning for students in pre-k and cluster programs began Thursday, since the district's agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union was reached.
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, announced earlier this week that she would depart the school system. Jackson, who assumed the superintendency in 2018, has worked for more than 20 years in CPS.
Shafkat Anowar
School & District Management Most Schools Offer at Least Some In-Person Classes, According to Feds' Latest Count
A majority of 4th and 8th graders had at least some in-person schooling by March, but inequities persisted.
3 min read
Image shows empty desks in a classroom.
Chris Ryan/OJO Images