$200M Proposed to Support Civics, History Teacher Education

A bipartisan bill would invest in higher ed programs training elementary and secondary school teachers teaching civics and history.
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  • The main focus of this bill is to fund civics programs at K-12 schools.
  • However, it also includes investments in higher education teacher training programs.
  • The bill would also fund research evaluating civics and history education programs.

A bipartisan bill that seeks to use unused COVID-19 relief funds to improve civics and history education includes $200 million for college teacher education programs.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat representing Delaware, and Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican representing Texas, introduced the Civics Secures Democracy Act on Wednesday. The focus of the $1 billion proposal is K-12 funding, however it would also set aside funds for higher education and research grants.

"I have long believed that equipping students with robust understandings of their government and history is a critical step toward building a stronger, more resilient America," Sen. Coons said in a joint statement with the bill's co-sponsors. "I am particularly heartened that the spirit of this legislation is reflected in the diverse backgrounds and ideologies of the co-sponsors of this bill."

Most notably for colleges and universities, the Civics Secures Democracy Act would allocate $150 million for colleges. According to the bill's text, those funds would be awarded to schools to invest in training programs for elementary and secondary school teachers.

Priority will be given to schools that address the needs of teachers working with traditionally underserved students.

Additionally, the bill sets aside another $50 million for research grants.

Researchers looking to assess and evaluate civics and history education programs may apply for these grants. The goal is to identify best practices for instructors, the senators said. Again, priority will be given to researchers interested in carrying out research that will benefit historically underserved communities.

Senators Angus King of Maine, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mark Kelly of Arizona, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana co-sponsored the legislation.

The entire $1 billion proposal, which includes $585 million for state education agencies, would be paid for using COVID-19 relief funds for programs that have since expired, according to the senators.