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In The News

TGIF... Teaching Geography is Fundamental

January 05, 2010
Timothy McDonnell

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Dear Members of the New York Geographic Alliance:

The New York Geographic Alliance is entering a new and very challenging period in our 21-year history. We want to ensure that our students leaave school geographically literate.  This does not mean that they will memorize the names of the capital cities of Europe. Literacy means more than a mastery of trivia. It means that they can use spatial thinking skills. It means that they can interpret maps to understand real world problems. Every educated person in this century needs these skills. But, the role of geography in our schools is still neglected.

Did you know that Geography is the ONLY required subject that does not receive any dedicated federal funding under No Child Left Behind? Not one dime. Yet, every other required subject receives support. The Teaching Geography is Fundamental (T.G.I.F.) Act has been proposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to address this inequity. It will provide $50 million nationwide  for teacher training in geography. In the House tghe bill is H.R. 1240, and in the Senate the bill is S. 749.

 We are happy to report that Rep. Paul Tonko (Amsterdam/Schenectady), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Long Island), Rep. Dan Maffei (Syracuse-Monroe Co.), Rep. Gregory Meeks (Queens) and Rep. Eric Massa (Rochester/Corning Area) have signed on recently as cosponsors because of our lobbying. The New York Geographic Alliance will attempt to convince other House members to jump on board in 2010. We also need the support of our senators, Chuck Schumer and KIrsten Gillibrand. To accomplish this goal, we need the help of our NYGA members and other friends of geographic education. Therefore, we are asking you to contact your congressperson and our two senators.

It is actually a very easy process. We recommend using their own contact page of their websites. Don't send letters, since they must go through extensive screening before reaching congressional offices. To contact Senators Schumer and Gillibrand about S. 749, go to these sites: Sen. Gillbrand     Sen. Schumer

Before contacting your congressperson, you must know what district you live in. We suggest visiting the home page for the House of Representatives (http://www.house.gov/). In the upper left hand corner, enter your zipcode plus four. That will take you to the website of your own representative. You can fill out their contact form from their website. If you want to see a map of congressional districts, click here:

New York State Congressional Map     Metro NYC Congressional Map

Here is a list of the 29 representatives of New York. Those with * are cosponsors of HR 1240.

1 - Timothy Bishop 16 - Jose Serrano
2 - Steve Israel 17 - Eliot Engel
3 - Pete King 18 - Nita Lowey
4 - Carolyn McCarthy 19 - John Hall
5 - Gary Ackerman 20 - Scott Murphy
6 - Gregory Meeks * 21 - Paul Tonko *
7 - Joseph Crowley 22 - Maurice Hinchey
8 - Jerrold Nadler 23 - Bill Owens
9 - Anthony Weiner 24 - Michael Acuri
10 - Edolphus Towns 25 - Dan Maffei *
11 - Yvette Clarke 26 - Christopher Lee
12 - Nydia Velazquez 27 - Brian Higgins
13 - Michael McMahon 28 - Louise Slaughter
14 - Carolyn Maloney * 29 - Eric Massa
15 - Charles Rangel

What you say in your message to your congressperson or senator, is up to you. Try to personalize the message. Tell them why geography is important to you and to your students. Let them know that are children need better geographic education if they are going to competitive in the 21st century. Make sure that you indicate the bill is H.R. 1240.

In late-February, the alliance coordinators return to the Hill to lobby Congress about T.G.I.F. It will help us in our efforts if they have received emails from their constituents.  It is a real possibility that T.G.I.F. should pass in the House in 2010, and the Senate could then follow their lead. So,thank you for helping NYGA  and the National Geographic Society as we push for our share of the federal education budget. We are proud to represent the New York Geographic Alliance to our state leaders and we are hopeful that we can correct the troubling oversight that leaves Geography alone without funding. Please feel free to forward this message to others as well. Thank you for your dedication to the teaching of geography in our schools! It's time for New Yorkers to take the lead in promoting quality education.

We would also appreciate an email to either Carol or Tim, letting us know that you contacted Congress.

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Article Derived From: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=NY