National Association of Scholars
phone: 609-683-7878 • fax: 609-683-0316
August 1, 2008
Contact: Stephen H. Balch, President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRINCETON, NJ—The National Association of Scholars hailed the establishment of the “American History for Freedom Program,” part of the comprehensive higher education act just reauthorized by Congress. The program is designed to foster the study of American political and constitutional history (designated in the legislation as “traditional American history”), free institutions, and Western Civilization in the nation’s colleges and universities.
The NAS particularly lauded the leadership shown by Congressman Thomas Petri of Wisconsin and Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire in securing the legislation’s passage. Congressman Petri introduced the legislation in the House and worked to gain the support of the House conferees for the final measure. Senator Gregg was the sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, and secured the inclusion of its essential language in the upper chamber’s version of the Higher Education Act reauthorization, which passed the Senate in July of 2007.
Commenting on the program’s approval, Dr. Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, said: “It comes at an ideal time. There is a groundswell of interest in these vitally important subjects, and scholars around the country have been making remarkable progress in creating programs of study, as well as academic centers and institutes, devoted to them. The NAS is proud to have played a crucial role in getting this movement underway. Resources, of course, are always essential in furthering efforts of this kind, and we brought this need to the attention of Congressman Petri and Senator Gregg. The American History for Freedom provisions of the Higher Education Act, fashioned with this movement in mind, will help it gain even greater momentum.”
The American History for Freedom Program would authorize the Department of Education to make three-year competitive grants “to academic programs or centers that promote and impart knowledge of 1) traditional American history; 2) the history and nature of, and threats to free institutions; and 3) the history and achievements of Western Civilization.” Grants could be used to “design and implement programs of study, courses, lecture series, seminars and symposia”; promote the “development, publication and dissemination of instructional materials”; aid “research”; underwrite “teaching in undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate programs”; support “graduate and postgraduate fellowships”; and assist K-12 “teacher preparation initiatives.”
In assessing the longer term consequences of this legislation, Dr. Balch observed that “the intellectual health of American education, as well as American society at large, depends on the attention students and scholars give to genuinely serious things. There are no studies more serious than those dealing with American constitutional and political history, the nature and origins of liberty, and Western Civilization, and no better way to enrich and diversify academic life than by encouraging them. Senator Gregg and Congressman Petri have proven their legislative statesmanship in creating an instrument through which this can happen. We are delighted to have had the privilege of working with them. They have our most profound thanks.”
The National Association of Scholars is America’s foremost higher education reform group. Located in Princeton, NJ, it has forty-six state affiliates and more than four thousand professors, graduate students, administrators, and trustees as members.