Advocate for K-12 Geography Education
National Level Advocacy
Speak up for Geography is a national-level campaign organized by National Geographic to target members of Congress with a specific message about why they should support the proposed Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF). You can read more about this piece of legislation, and send an email to your U.S. Senators and Representative(s).
Congress must also take up re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (most recently named the “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001). In the 2001 version of ESEA, Geography is named as one of the nine core academic subjects. Unfortunately, Geography is the only one of the nine that has never been funded.
The Association of American Geographers (AAG) drafted a Resolution in Support of K-12 Geography Education in order to apply additional pressure on Congress. The Resolution has been signed by former Secretaries of State and Defense, state leaders and representatives from several major companies and education associations, including NCGE. This resolution demonstrates a broad understanding that well-trained geographers make a vital contribution to national defense and economic security.
NCGE advocates with its partners on behalf of geography education. As the association for geography educators K-University, our voice is as powerful as our membership allows. If you have let your membership lapse or have not yet joined, now is the time.
State and Local Level Advocacy
1) Know who is responsible
- At the state level, the person in charge of Social Studies curriculum at your state education department/agency is usually the person who decides the minimum amount of geography students will encounter at each grade level. Those in charge of Earth and Environmental Science curriculum should also be familiar with geography standards.
- School districts may decide to increase geography content. Find out who is in charge of curriculum in your district and make sure he/she is familiar with Geography for Life: National Geography Standards, Second Edition.
- Keep an eye on happenings within your state legislature. In some states, such as Texas, the legislature has ultimate control over the curriculum.
2) Connect with your State Alliance for Geographic Education. Most Alliances have advocacy plans in place which depend on the support of educators, administrators and parents. Several State Alliances have partnerships with NCGE which qualifies individuals for NCGE membership discounts.
3) Read, listen, and recognize a lack of geographic understanding in the media.
4) Respond with a targeted, appropriate message. Powerful messages use specific examples of how geographers approach common problems.
General Talking Points for Why Geography Education Is Important:
- Many of our challenges have a spatial dimension or lie at the nexus between human and environmental systems. Where else are students taught to understand the place in which they live or to ask important questions about why patterns of phenomena exist across space and what the implications are of those patterns?
- Geography provides essential workforce skills. It enables students to grasp the explanatory power of spatial information. It empowers students to be discerning users of maps and increasingly critical geospatial technologies such as remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning systems (GPS). Geographic literacy is important for applying these technologies toward good governance, foreign policy, economic development, environmental stewardship and regional and local planning.
- Geography is important for negotiating daily life and for enabling a productive citizenry. Geography brings a necessary 21st century view to life situations and decisions – from family, school, and the workplace to the local community and broader society.
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Honoring Advocates and Supporters
Anyone who is or has been particularly supportive of geography with meaningful program development or resources may be eligible for an NCGE award. The Outstanding Support for Geography Education Award honors individuals who make significant contributions to improving geography education from outside of the formal classroom. Award recipients are honored at a special ceremony during the annual National Conference on Geography Education.