Action Items at AHA Council Meeting, January 6 and 9, 2011

At the second half of the semi-annual meeting of the Council of the American Historical Association, held Sunday, January 9th, the governing board made the following decisions (see decisions from the first half of the meeting here):

  • Approved the following memorial for our colleague, AHA Vice President David Weber:
    • Whereas David Weber revitalized the study of the Spanish or Mexican borderlands;
    • Whereas Professor Weber brought into common enterprise scholars in the fields of Latin American history, early American history, Western American history, Native American History, transnational history, religious history, colonial history, intellectual history, and the history of race relations;
    • Whereas, in the Clements Center at Southern Methodist University, David Weber created an institution that has advanced the study of history and encouraged and guided countless young scholars;
    • Whereas David Weber’s service as the Vice President of the Professional Division of the AHA met the highest standard for leadership, loyalty, thoroughness, and commitment to the well-being of his fellow historians;
    • Whereas David Weber was, in the phrasing of one fellow scholar, “el maestro de las imensidades,”
    • Therefore the Council of the American Historical Association now recognizes and celebrates the lasting legacy that David Weber and his work have left to his profession and to this Association.
  • Agreed to work with the California History-Social Science Project on its History Blueprint project.
  • Approved the nomination of Paul S. Sutter and John R. McNeill as co-chairs of the 2013 Program Committee.
  • Approved the nomination of Craig E. Colton as chair of the 2013 Local Arrangements Committee.
  • Agreed to the appointment of a new ad hoc committee to guide the Association’s development of a new Internet infrastructure.  The committee will be named later.

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  1. Larry Cebula

    So not a word about the fate of the Teaching American History program was said?!

    Over the last decade the federal government has pumped a billion dollars into history education. The program is about to be eliminated. And the historical profession does not have a word to say about it. Our leading professional organization has its hands full organizing a yearly meeting.

    Your “Why Join the AHA?” page talks about how the AHA serves all historians including K-12 teachers of history, and lists “advocacy” as one of the organization’s functions. Neither of these are really true. It is a shame, because history needs an advocate in this country and I am not sure shy the AHA fails so spectacularly to be that advocate.

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  2. Jim Grossman

    Please note that this is merely a list of actions taken by the Council. It is neither a set of minutes nor a record of conversation. The Council agenda included a report from Lee White of the National Coalition for History, who provided information about current status and prognosis for the program. For his most recent explication of the status see http://historycoalition.org/2010/08/20/history-organizations-unite-to-save-teaching-american-history-grants/ .

    The AHA, in part through the National Coalition for History, has been working with other organizations to monitor the situation and intervene wherever possible in the budget process as it emerges. That budgeting process has been stalled in recent months.

    Our activities have included working with colleagues in other disciplines that are part of the “well-rounded education” structure proposed by the administration to ensure adequate funding for that portion of the Education budget, and to allocate sufficient resources within it to Teaching American History.

    Thanks for your post and providing an opportunity for us to clarify the situation with regard to Teaching American History – and to emphasize its importance to the AHA and our colleagues who participate in the work of the National Coalition for History.

    Jim Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association.

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  3. Larry Cebula

    Thank you Jim. I was aware of the joint statement back in August, which supports discrete funding for disciplines but does not in fact take a stand for the Teaching American History program. I had hoped that this was the beginning of the AHA involvement rather than the end of it.

    I am working on a blog post about the demise of the TAH and what this might say about our professional organizations and and I want to be fair. Could you give me any details about what the AHA has done? What is this “monitoring” and how has the organization “intervened?” HAve them been action alerts to AHA members, or articles in Perspectives, has the AHA staff or leadership contacted members of Congress directly, etc.?

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  4. Jim Grossman

    Larry,

    Here is a list of some of the things that the AHA and our collaborators in the National Coalition for History (http://historycoalition.org/about/current-member-organizations/) have done regarding Teaching American History. I’m sure that some will disagree with strategy; others will argue that we could have done more. But I am prepared to argue that we worked hard, relied on the advice of people who have a good sense of how to accomplish things in Washington, and accurately represented the value – and the values – of the Teaching American History program in particular, and history education in general. We have not been as successful as any of us would have liked, but we are still working at it, from a variety of angles.

    The Executive Director of the National Coalition for History has done the following:

    • Met personally with, or spoken over the phone with, the staffs of the majority and minority on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and its equivalent committee in the House, Education and Labor. The Executive Director of the AHA has met with many of these individuals as well.
    • Met with the House and Senate Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees to argue for continued funding on a short term basis, this fiscal year.
    • Met with particular legislators who have a track record of support for history education in general, and TAH in particular. Additional meetings have been with other influential individuals who we have reason can be helpful to this enterprise. In these meetings he has emphasized the importance of the program as a stand-alone item in the federal budget.
    • Worked directly last year with Senator Byrd’s staff to ensure that TAH got funded in FY 2011, since the Obama administration’s proposed budget that was issued a year ago would have eliminated it for the current fiscal year.
    • Continues to speak weekly (sometimes daily) with his counterparts at related organizations to share intelligence about what is going on and work together to figure out what else we can do to save not only TAH but funding for every other discipline.
    • Included the threat to the TAH program as a regular topic of conversation on the Coalition’s website.

    I have emphasized the work that we have done through the Coalition, in collaboration with other organizations. This is important, as such work is most effective through this kind of cooperation. Such allies as the Organization of American Historians, Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, National Council for History Education, National History Day, and others have also been important to this effort.

    Jim Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association.

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