Bruce Craig, Director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History
Education is Center Stage for Bush Administration: $50 Million "History Education" Update
Bush's broad education proposal entitled "No Child Left Behind" was answered by Congress with a flurry of legislative proposals originating from both Republicans and Democrats (see NCC Washington Update, Vol. 7: 4; 26 January 2001). House Democrats, for example, recently proposed a $110 billion school package that is 75 percent in agreement with the Bush administration's proposals. On 27 February, when the president addressed Congress, education reform was front and center in his speech. Then, with the submission of the president's budget proposal on 9 April Congress began to debate the size of the agency's budget in light of a $5.6 trillion projected surplus.
In the meantime, DOE officials are working on the administrative details relating to the $50 million earmark for history education in this year's Department of Education appropriations bill. According to recent DOE news postings: "The funds are designed to improve the quality of instruction in American History, as distinct from general social studies education. Grant awards will be designed to assist elementary and secondary schools in implementing research-based methods for improving the quality of instruction, professional development, and teacher education in American history. These funds will be used for competitive grants to local education agencies (LEAs) or consortia of LEAs where appropriate."
The Department has informed the NCC that 100 to 120 grants in the estimated range of $300,000 to $700,000 (with the average grant being $500,000) will be competitively awarded. Grants will be available for up to three years (dependent upon the availability of funding after 2001). Applications should now be available with (at this writing) a 30 June 2001 anticipated closing date. For more information about the program contact Christine Miller or Gillian Cohen at (202) 260-8766.
Congress Passes 2002 Budget Resolutions, Begins Agency Hearings
Meanwhile, even before the president released his detailed budget for FY 2002, on 4 April the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies held its first hearing on the budget for the 2002 fiscal year. William Ferris, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Bill Ivey chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, both presented testimony on behalf of their respective agencies.
The president's budget seeks to freeze spending levels for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at roughly their current levels - $120.504 million for the NEH and $105.219 million for the NEA. Ferris outlined his agency's priorities: "Knowing that educational reform is a high priority with the president, in FY 2002 the Endowment will pursue with renewed vigor its ongoing efforts to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the humanities in the nation's schools and colleges."
Democrats attending the budget hearing stated that they wanted to see enacted significant increases for the arts and humanities programs. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, stated that he hoped that both endowments could receive $150 million. David Obey (D-WI), one of the champions for funding increases for both the NEH and NEA, stated that he hoped that both agencies could receive more than the "token increases" that have been generated in the last two fiscal years (The NEH, for example, has received a $5 million increase over the Administration's proposals in each of the past two fiscal years). Representative Joe Skeen (R-NM), the new chairman of the subcommittee (who is generally viewed by Hill watchers as sympathetic to the NEH in the past) did not state whether he would support or oppose funding increases.
During the hearing, discussion focused on the funding proposal for the Regional Humanities Centers--a favorite program initiative of NEH Chairman Ferris. The program seeks to establish ten university-based regional centers that would "use the humanities to explore regional cultures in the context of place." One Republican member, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), expressed concern that the initiative could draw funds away from the NEH's core programs. Ferris explained that it was hoped that a significant portion of the initiative would be funded through private sources and eventually each center would be associated with an endowment that would enable each to eventually be self-sustaining. The members discussed the possibility of mandating such a funding arrangement through the inclusion of legislative language in the appropriation.
Jefferson Day Advocacy Wrap-Up
A reception was also held in honor of Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, the 2001 recipient of the Sidney Yates Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities. About 300 people attended the function. The Jefferson lecture presentation followed.
Arthur Miller's Jefferson Lecture Stirs Controversy
Miller's opening line was a dry statement, matter-of-factly delivered: "Here are some observations about politicians as actors." The lecture, aptly entitled, "On Politics and the Art of Acting," was a personal reflection of politicians as performers and how their action (and inaction) affects the body politic. He continued, "we are ruled more by the arts of performance, by acting in other words, than anybody wants to think about for very long."
It was obvious though that Miller had thought long and hard about his topic. For almost an hour, he criticized how both presidential contenders George W. Bush and Al Gore portrayed themselves (with the assistance of the press) to voters last year--;both men, he said, tried to pretend that they were mere common folk when, in fact, they are part of the American political elite. Following the speech, a reception was held in the Kennedy Center's South Gallery where the room was abuzz about the lecture.
The next day, the conservative press weighed in and attacked Miller's lecture. The National Review for example, stated: "It wasn't an outright partisan attack, such as the kind found on the New York Times editorial page . . . [but] Miller played the part of an artiste above the fray, when in reality he made a series of anti-Republican comments that really have no place in a forum supposedly devoted to humane learning . . . The Jefferson Lecture should be removed from the swamp of politics, not knee deep in it."
Previously, in a column published the day that Miller was scheduled to deliver the Jefferson Lecture, NR editors called on the Bush administration to replace NEH Chairman William Ferris whom they described as a "Clintonite holdover." Hill insiders report, however, that Ferris has the strong support of Mississippi senators Trent Lott (the Senate Majority Leader) and Thad Cochran both of whom, in spite of Ferris being appointed by President Bill Clinton, are urging President George W. Bush to have him continue in his role as NEH Chair.
The more liberal New Republic (TNR) magazine, however, in its 2 April 2001 issue (also published prior to the delivery of the Jefferson Lecture) reports that the White House may indeed be considering candidates other than Ferris. "We are delighted to learn, that one of the leading candidates under consideration [to become the new NEH chair] is Peter Berkowitz, a TNR contributing editor and one of the country's most distinguished authorities on the traditions of liberal democracy." Berkowitz is author of the book Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist and writes periodically for TNR. According to its editorial pages, "the NEH could do with a restoration of its intellectual heft."
By agreement with Mr. Miller who holds the copyright to the Jefferson Lecture, his speech will not be available in hard copy format or on-line until it is published in a NEH publication. It is expected to be posted on the NEH web page in a few weeks.
NEH National Council Meets to Address Long-Term Projects
Peggy Prenshaw delivered the Research Programs Committee report that focused on the "Long-term projects" issue. During the council's previous meeting, the panel began to address the long term funding of scholarly projects issue by requesting the NEH staff to prepare a concept paper discussing several items of concern. For example, some council members in past meetings expressed concern over: a) the amount of money the NEH was investing in certain editing projects and b) dismay over the length of time sometimes needed to complete such projects. Likely to be impacted by decisions were the over forty ongoing editing projects relating to presidential papers, correspondence, and papers of important historical figures, as well as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographies. Ms. Prenshaw's draft report addressed these concerns.
Prenshaw stated that the committee had considered a "portfolio analysis" prepared by NEH staff that analyzed data relating to some fifty-eight scholarly edition projects. The analysis assessed average funding per project and projected funding needs for the future. The results surprised some: one finding is that about $3 million is earmarked for scholarly editions projects each year and that the expenditures do not seem to detrimentally impact funding for new projects. Another finding was that about a quarter of the projects currently receiving NEH support are "new" efforts--;having been funded since 1997. Finally, some concern was raised that the number of applicants is down. Committee members speculated that the controversy over the "long term project" issue may have served as a deterrent to institutions to take the time to submit and an application to the NEH.
At the next National Council meeting scheduled for 12-13 July, the committee will consider a revised report that will include guideline principles for administering the scholarly edition projects program. Historian Ira Berlin, who sits on the Research Committee, stated he felt things were "moving in the right direction."
Senate Holds Hearing on Copyright Harmonization Act
On 13 March 2001, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001 (S. 487), legislation introduced 7 March by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Committee and cosponsored by the committee's ranking Democrat, Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The objective of the bill is to make it easier to use copyrighted material in online instruction. The bill incorporates the recommendations made by the United States Copyright Office in a 1999 report and suggestions advanced by the Congressional Web-based Education Commission.
Under current law, copyrighted material used under "fair use" provisions in a classroom often cannot be included in an online course; securing copyright permission can be a lengthy and at times expensive process. The legislation is designed to correct this. Presently, distance educators can only make fair use of complete versions of non-dramatic literary and musical works. This legislation seeks to enable educators to use limited portions of dramatic literary and musical works as well as audiovisual works and sound recordings. The legislation relies on safeguards (such as passwords) to ensure that only students have access to the copyrighted material.
Testifying in support of the measure was Gerald A. Heeger, president of the University of Maryland University College, an institution that specializes in providing distance education for students worldwide. This legislation, he said, "will move the copyright law in accordance with the educational reality of today."
The Association of American Publishers, however, testified in opposition to the bill. The association's objections were that the language may be too broad and that the potential for misuse by students was great. "We don't believe the Copyright Act is holding back distance education in any serious way," said Allan Robert Adler, a vice president of the association.
Another witness, Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, spoke in favor of amending the bill to extend the fair-use exemption to for-profit colleges and universities so that they, along with nonprofit educational institutions, could benefit from the exemptions. Because of the strong bipartisan support for the bill, it is expected to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee fairly quickly.
Kate Mullany National Historic Site
The legislation focuses on more than just the activities of labor leader/activist Kate Mullany. It recognizes the unique role that Troy, New York, played in the development of the iron industry as well as the "collar and cuff industry," and the rise of men's and women's worker and cooperative organizations. Today, parts of Troy are designated a state heritage area representing industrial development and labor themes. Establishment of the Mullany House NHS, which is located at 350 Eighth Street in Troy, would be the catalyst for a cooperative interpretive/preservation endeavor between the National Park Service and the Hudson-Mohawk Urban Cultural Park Commission. The legislation authorizes the NPS to acquire the property "by donation, purchase from willing sellers with donated or appropriated funds or exchange." No hearing date for the legislation has been set.
Vietnam Memorial Education Center
Steel Industry National Historical Park
If established, the park unit would commemorate a wide range of accomplishments and topics ranging from industrial process advancements to labor-management relations. The proposed unit includes the site of the Battle of Homestead, waged in 1892 between steelworkers and Pinkerton guards. With regard to the evolution of the workers rights' movement, this battle was an important event in labor history.
Louisiana Purchase Commission
As drafted, the legislation seeks to authorize a 24 member commission (12 Republicans and 12 Democrats) who would be appointed by the President and the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. The legislation does not specify that any member need have historical expertise but rather merely, "have demonstrated a strong sense of public service, expertise in the appropriate professions, scholarship and abilities likely to contribute to the fulfillment of the duties of the Commission." In addition, the governments of France and Spain would each have the right to appoint a non-voting member to the commission. The commission, may, however, appoint such advisory committees as it deems necessary.
The professionally staffed commission would be charged to plan, develop, and coordinate activities throughout the United States and internationally. It would coordinate activities developed by various federal departments and agencies; would consult with tribal, state, local and foreign governments; and worth with schools and colleges and private organizations whose activities would: "commemorate or examine the history of the Louisiana Territory; the negotiations of the Louisiana Purchase, voyages of discovery, frontier movements, and westward expansion of the United States."
One year after the enactment of the legislation, the Commission would issue a report and make recommendations for the production of books, films, and other educational materials; suggest bibliographical and documentary projects, conferences, lectures and seminars, traveling exhibitions, ceremonies, and celebrations; and consider issuing commemorative coins, medals, and stamps. Total funding for the project is not to exceed $4 million.
"Peopling" Theme Study
Akaka introduced the legislation noting that "All Americans were originally travelers from other lands. Whether we came to this country as native peoples, English colonists or African slaves, or as Mexican ranchers, or Chinese merchants, the process by which our nation was peopled transformed us from strangers from different shores into neighbors unified in our inimitable diversity--Americans all." It is Akaka's hope that the study which will focus on immigration, migration and settlement of the United States will serve as a springboard for the preservation and interpretation of several significant properties. The National Park Service, supports the study and the enactment of the legislation.
In preparing the theme study, the legislation calls on the NPS to establish linkages to "maximize opportunities for public education and scholarly research" by entering into cooperative agreements with state and local governments, educational institutions, professional organizations, local historical organizations or other appropriate entities to prepare the study and/or preserve and interpret key sites. These entities would assist the NPS to prepare the theme study in accordance with generally accepted scholarly standards.
Controversial State Department Advisory Board Minutes Posted
Minutes for the April (updated version), July, September, and December 2000 meetings of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee (this advisory body oversees the production of the official Foreign Relations of the United States series), are now posted on the Internet.
The minutes of the April 2000 meeting includes an account of the closed session on "The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series." One topic that captured considerable attention in the nation's press (see, for example, Vernon Loeb's article on page A-31 of the 19 February 2001, issue of the Washington Post, "CIA Blocks History's Access to Briefings") was the discussion about the CIA's categorical refusal to declassify any issues of the President's Daily Brief even though they are in excess of 25-years old. In the July 2000 meeting, it is reported that "Director of Central Intelligence Tenet remains firm in his position that the President's Daily Brief may not be released for publication "no matter how old or historically significant it may be."
To view the minutes discussed above, tap into the Federation of American Scientist's "Project on Government Secrecy" web site index for the Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes at: <http://www.fas.org/sgp/advisory/state/index.html>
Number of Ph.D.s Drops
"History of the House" Advisory Committee Meets
Attending the meeting in addition to Representative Larson were several congressional members of the Board, James Billington (Librarian of Congress), political scientist Barbara Sinclair (University of California), and historians Robert V. Remini (University of Illinois), Joel Silbey (Cornell University), and G. Edward White (University of Virginia). The group discussed a number of matters including the number of authors needed to write such a book, who the author or authors would be, the general thrust of the book, matters relating to cost, and prospects for publishing.
This initial meeting of the Board was not open to the public. A spokesman for Representative Larson, however, stated that while discussions were very "preliminary," the general consensus of those attending was that the book probably would take a minimum of two years to research and write. Reportedly, the Board members concluded that the book must tell the "mega-story" of the history of the House by bringing together both people and events. Rather than engage multiple authors, various members of the group stated their view that the book ought to be written by a single author, backed by a competent research team. Finally, discussion led to the conclusion that the book should not be specifically targeted just to new House members but should be written in such a way as to be appealing to both a scholarly and general audience.
Women's History Reports
State Department Historical Advisory Committee Issues Annual Report
Most importantly, the report states that the CIA and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board have both exempted entire categories of documents from classification review including the CIA's Presidents Daily Briefs: "The Committee is gravely concerned that these blanket denials will set a dangerous precedent and compromise the historical record." The report is posted at <http://www.fas.org/sgp/advisory/state/hac00.html>
Advisory Council Annual Report
NARA Releases Freedman's Bank Records CDROM
Last Minute Clinton Action Opens Records
A number of years ago, the JFK Assassination Records Review Board identified seventeen PFIAB documents dating from 1961-1963, classified them as "assassination records," and decided that they were subject to the 1992 law requiring the release of JFK assassination records to the fullest extent possible. The PFIAB objected to the Review Board's actions and refused to release the records and waited until late in 1998 (when the Review Board was about to be disbanded) to file and appeal with the President in an effort to block disclosure of the records. Clinton, however, rejected the appeal the day before his term ended. The President also turned down an appeal by the Secret Service to withhold some of that agency's assassination records.
The records are now open to researchers at the JFK assassination records collection at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Information about the records may be found at: <http://www.nara.gov/research/jfk/index.html>.
CIA Declassifies Records on Ex-Nazis
CIA Declassifies 19,000 Pages
The collection was released in conjunction with a Princeton University conference on the CIA analysis of the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1991. The release sheds light on various Cold War incidents including U-2 spy flights, the Soviet's nuclear capabilities, the development of Stealth bomber technology, and the debate over whether President Reagan's large military buildup in the early 1980s and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) had any real effect in pushing the Soviet Union over the brink and thus hastened its demise.
According to the electronic publication "Secrecy News" published by the Federation of American Scientists, Project on Government Secrecy, "depending on points of view, the release either demonstrated the Agency's commitment to declassification and scholarly research, or it was a rather cynical exercise in orchestrating public access to documents that were unilaterally selected, declassified and packaged by the Agency. Or some combination of the two." The released documents are posted at: <http://www.foia.ucia.gov/net_princeton.htm>. "A Full Text Search" of the documents may be found at <http://www.foia.ucia.gov/search2.htm>.
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