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 150,000 jobs in geospatial technology in the next decade.
The Teaching Geography Is Fundamental Act (TGIF) is federal legislation that would authorize grants to universities and nonprofit organizations for programs to expand geographic literacy among American students and improve the teaching of geography at the K-12 level.
TGIF authorizes $15 million per year for five years.
The Challenge: Speak Up for Geography’s goal is to send 10,000 letters to Congress by the end of Geography Awareness Week (November 19th) to support funding for geography education. Follow this link: http://speakupforgeography.rallycongress.com/ to be a part of the 10,000 letter challenge and share it with your friends, family and classroom! Registration and letter submission can be completed in under a minute, so don’t wait!
Why should geography students and others participate in Speak Up for Geography? As a recent recipient of a Bachelor’s degree in geography, it’s no surprise I feel compelled to support federal funding of geography education; however, past experience does not necessarily produce present action. It is going to require that geographers, like me, work hard to communicate how geography education is not some self-serving initiative, but rather an altruistic approach to global connections, peace and understanding.
My own interest in geography education is far from one dimensional. I would argue that geography is capable of taking your education both vertically and horizontally (metaphorically speaking). Geography will commonly move you across the x-axis, allowing you to explore the Black Sea, Sahara Desert, and the Xhosa speaking people of Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it can also take you along the y-axis; moving you through time (as people grow), through evolution, and through the dynamics of outer space all the way to the core of the earth. It is an invaluable education that promotes not only self awareness but open-mindedness in considering other people and places. It teaches impact, community, and the natural processes of the world. Geography is everything, everyone and everywhere. I am geography, are you?
If you consider yourself part of this earth, part of our geography, then “Speak Up!” by sending a letter to your congressperson or senator about the importance of funding for geography education.
–Julia from My Wonderful World