Geography provides the framework and the tools for understanding our world. More than just teaching students to read maps, it teaches students relationships between people, places, cultures, politics, economies and environments. But some of our nation’s lawmakers don’t seem to think it’s an important subject.
I have been a teacher of World Geography for high school freshmen in Texas for the past five years. I will begin teaching a new subject next year to seniors in the same independent school district — Economics and AP Macroeconomics. Accordingly, I will have an opportunity to be teacher again for many of my former students, this time focusing on a subject that’s a logical extension of the former. I’m excited about this and looking forward to the beginning of the new school year.
What makes this so exciting for me is that I have already watched these young people grow in their understanding and appreciation of the world, a world that includes our own great nation. Now I’ll be able to see them grow even more as they step out to pursue higher educations and begin their careers. These students will benefit from knowing about the world when they start competing for jobs in this increasingly global economy of ours. They will benefit too from knowing about it in helping our nation meet international challenges of the future — challenges from global terrorism, to global warming, to global disease, to global trade, and who knows what next. Naturally, I am an advocate for improving geography education in our schools.
In a recent email message from the National Geographic Society (I can’t even remember when I was not a member of this fine organi- zation and did not receive their monthly magazine), I was invited to help raise awareness within the Congress of the United States about the need to stress the teaching of geography in our schools. Through the society’s My Wonderful World campaign, you too can help if you are willing.
I did not know before receiving the aforementioned message that, of the nine core subjects included in the new No Child Left Behind legislation, geography is the only one without designated federal funding? The Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) will rectify this by funding professional development for educators to ensure all young people acquire the vital geography skills and experience that they will need. Thus far, the Senate version of TGIF (S. 727) has attracted 18 cosponsors, and the House version (H.R. 1228) has 39 cosponsors.
Please consider writing to your Senators and Representatives in Congress urging them to support and cosponsor the pending legislation. National Geographic has made it easy for you to contact your lawmakers to tell them this bill is a priority. Just click on the link and follow the bouncing ball. You can also spread the word and urge your friends, family, and co-workers to notify their law- makers about TGIF.
Thank you in advance for participating in the democratic process.
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