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In the 113th Congress, Teaching Geography is Fundamental (TGIF) was introduced in the House by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) as H.R. 822 with Representative Tom Petri (R-WI) signing on as lead co-sponsor. TGIF is bi-partisan legislation that would create funding for a grant program in the Department of Education to support efforts to improve geography education. The rationale for TGIF is that it corrects the oversight that left geography as the only one of the nine federally-recognized core academic subjects not to have received dedicated federal funding in the past 10 years (since the enactment of No Child Left Behind).
Geography has long been recognized as a “core academic subject” in federal education legislation. However, unlike all the other core academic subjects, including history, civics, economics, foreign languages and the arts, there is no dedicated federal funding stream to advance geography education. As a result, our nation is facing a crisis in geographic literacy that is jeopardizing our global competitiveness, our position of diplomatic leadership, and our ability to fill and retain over 500,000 high-wage jobs in geospatial technology in the next decade. The Teaching Geography Is Fundamental Act (TGIF), Senate Bill 370 and House Resolution 822, is federal legislation which would
University and college students from across the country have joined the Speak Up For Geography Campus Challenge. Recognizing the need for dedicated funding to advance geography education in the United States, students will advocate for the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act on their home campuses and in their social networks. Rather than accepting the crisis of geographic illiteracy in the United States, students from 36 different campuses are committed to improving the geographic thinking and reasoning skills of today’s K-12 students.
Geography promotes interdisciplinary thinking. Students who understand and apply geographic concepts enhance their critical thinking skills, and make connections more easily in all subject areas. Funding geography education is truly fundamental to good learning. Why contact Congress now? Because this is a critical period when our representatives are considering whether to co-sponsor the Teaching Geography is Fundamental act, and Congress actually does pay attention to constituent contacts. This bill would finally make dedicated federal funding available for K-12 professional development in geography education. Nationwide, this bill would help state Alliances to continue funding your State Geography Bees, summer institutes, weekend