skip to main content

H.R. 822 (113th): Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act


The text of the bill below is as of Feb 26, 2013 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.


I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 822

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 26, 2013

(for himself, Mr. Petri, and Mr. Walz) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

A BILL

To improve and expand geographic literacy among kindergarten through grade 12 students in the United States by improving professional development programs for kindergarten through grade 12 teachers offered through institutions of higher education.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act .

2.

Geography education

Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1021 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

D

Geography education

271.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

The economic stature and competitiveness of the United States requires increasingly sophisticated levels of geographic knowledge and mastery of geographic tools.

(2)

It is estimated that the United States geospatial industry generated $73,000,000,000 in revenue last year, with half a million high-wage jobs, and that the industry is growing at between 25-30 percent per year. This burgeoning industry will not be able to maximize its growth potential without a sustained Federal investment in geography education.

(3)

A 2012 report by a Council on Foreign Relations task force, United States Education Reform and National Security, states that the lack of global awareness among American citizens increasingly jeopardizes their ability to interact with local and global peers or participate meaningfully in business, diplomatic, and military situations.

(4)

Geographic literacy is essential to a well prepared citizenry in the 21st century because geographic factors assume greater importance as the world’s economies, societies, and political structures grow more global in scale.

(5)

The 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress in geography shows that fewer than 30 percent of students tested in grades four, eight, and twelve scored at grade-level or above. These scores have stayed the same or gotten worse since the last time the test was administered in 2001.

(6)

The National Academy of Sciences urged creation of a national program to improve the geographic competence of the United States general population and the school age population.

(7)

Geography is one of the core academic subjects defined under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

(8)

A recent National Geographic Society survey found that all 50 States and the District of Columbia recognize geography in their curricula or content standards, and an increasing number require geography for graduation and include geography in mandated statewide assessments.

(9)

Seven of ten educators responding to a National Geographic survey felt their professional development opportunities in geography were inadequate and half believed their schools had inadequate basic materials for teaching geography.

(10)

The National Geographic Society has spent more than 25 years pioneering an extraordinarily effective national program for improving the teaching of geography by engaging university faculty, geographers, and highly trained teachers in State Geographic Alliances dedicated to providing high-quality professional development opportunities for kindergarten through grade 12 teachers.

(11)

More than 80 colleges and universities in all 50 States have received grants from the National Geographic Society to support State Geographic Alliances and their professional development programs. Alliance-trained kindergarten through grade 12 teachers and their higher education partners conduct workshops, develop localized teaching materials, and facilitate communication among thousands of teachers whose responsibilities include teaching of geography in various formats and grade levels.

(12)

A study by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning that assessed student academic achievement in geography on the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that students taught by Alliance-trained teachers out-performed other students by almost 10 percent.

(13)

We live in a changing world with multiple and evolving threats to national security, including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare, and social unrest. As the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to respond. A 2013 National Academies report states that it is likely that qualified Geography Information Systems and remote sensing experts are already hard to find. Long before 2030, competition and a small number of graduates will likely result in shortages in all emerging areas and in the core areas of cartography, photogammetry, and geodesy.

272.

Purposes and objectives

(a)

Purpose

The purpose of this part is to promote geographic literacy and improved understanding of global cultures among kindergarten through grade 12 students by expanding programs that employ the geographic knowledge and expertise of faculty members in institutions of higher education for the benefit of kindergarten through grade 12 teachers and to otherwise advance geographic literacy.

(b)

Objectives

The objectives of this part are the following:

(1)

To increase students knowledge of, and achievement in, standards-based geography to enable the students to become better informed and more productive citizens.

(2)

To increase the number of highly qualified teachers of United States and world geography and to enable the teachers to improve student mastery of geographic principles and practical applications of those principles.

(3)

To encourage geographic education research, to develop and disseminate effective instructional materials, and to promote replication of best practices and exemplary programs that foster geographic literacy.

(4)

To assist States in measuring the impact of education in geography.

(5)

To leverage and expand private and public support for geography education partnerships at national, State, and local levels.

273.

Grant program authorized

The Secretary is authorized to award a grant to a national nonprofit educational organization or a consortium of organizations (hereafter in this part referred to as the grantee) that has as its primary purpose the improvement of the quality of student understanding of geography through effective teaching of geography in the Nation’s classrooms.

274.

Use of funds

(a)

Direct activities

The grantee shall use not more than 25 percent of the funds made available through the grant for a fiscal year—

(1)

to strengthen and expand the grantee’s relationships with institutions of higher education and with State educational agencies and local educational agencies and other public and private organizations with a commitment to geography education and the benefits of geography education;

(2)

to support and promote research-based training of teachers of geography and related disciplines in kindergarten through grade 12 as a means of broadening student knowledge of the world, including the dissemination of information on effective practices and research findings concerning the teaching of geography;

(3)

to support research on effective geography teaching practices and the development of assessment instruments and strategies to document student understanding of geography;

(4)

to convene national conferences on geography education to assess the current state of geographic literacy and to identify strategies for improvement; and

(5)

to develop and disseminate appropriate research-based materials to foster geographic literacy.

(b)

Subgrants

(1)

In general

The grantee shall use not more than 75 percent of the funds made available through the grant for a fiscal year to award subgrants to eligible recipients.

(2)

Eligible recipient defined

In this part the term eligible recipient means an institution of higher education associated with—

(A)

a State geographic alliance;

(B)

a nonprofit educational organization;

(C)

a State educational agency or local educational agency; or

(D)

a partnership between or among an alliance, organization, or agency described in subparagraph (A), (B) or (C).

(3)

Subgrant uses of funds

Eligible recipients shall use the subgrant funds for 1 or more of the following purposes:

(A)

Conducting teacher training programs that use effective and research-based approaches to the teaching of geography at the kindergarten through grade 12 level.

(B)

Applying Geographic Information System (GIS) or other geographic technological tools to the teaching of geography.

(C)

Applying Internet and other distance learning technology to the teaching of geography or to the continuing education of teachers.

(D)

Promoting rigorous academic standards and assessment techniques to guide and measure student performance in geography.

(E)

Promoting research in geography education, emphasizing research that leads to improving student achievement.

(F)

Carrying out local, field-based activities for teachers and students to improve their knowledge of the concepts and tools of geography while enhancing understanding of their home region.

(G)

Promoting comparative studies of world cultures, economies, and environments.

(H)

Encouraging replication of best practices and model programs to promote geographic literacy.

(I)

Developing and disseminating effective, research-based geography learning materials.

(J)

Convening State-based conferences to assess the state of geographic literacy and to identify strategies for improvement.

275.

Applications

(a)

Grantee applications

To be eligible to receive a grant under this part, a grantee shall submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such information as the Secretary may require.

(b)

Eligible recipient applications

(1)

Submission

To be eligible to receive a subgrant under this part, an eligible recipient shall submit an application to a grantee at such time, in such manner and accompanied by such information as the grantee may require.

(2)

Review

(A)

In general

A grantee shall invite individuals described in subparagraph (B) to review all applications from eligible recipients for a subgrant under this section and to make recommendations to the grantee regarding the approval of the applications.

(B)

Reviewers

The individuals referred to in subparagraph (A) are the following:

(i)

Leaders in the field of geography education.

(ii)

Such other individuals as the grantee may determine are necessary or desirable.

276.

Requirements

(a)

Administrative costs

A grantee receiving a grant under this part for a fiscal year, and each eligible recipient receiving a subgrant under this part for a fiscal year, may use not more than 15 percent of the funds made available through the grant or subgrant, respectively, for administrative costs.

(b)

Matching requirements

(1)

In general

In order to be eligible to receive a subgrant under this part an eligible recipient shall agree in the application submitted under section 275(b) to provide matching funds towards the costs of the activities assisted under the subgrant.

(2)

Amount

An eligible recipient shall provide matching funds in an amount equal to 20 percent of the subgrant funds received under this part for the second and each succeeding fiscal year for which subgrant payments are made.

(3)

Source of matching funds

Matching funds may be provided in cash or in kind, fairly evaluated, including facilities, staffing salaries, and educational materials.

277.

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this part $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2014 and each of the 4 succeeding fiscal years.

.