Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), along with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), yesterday introduced the Teaching Geography Is Fundamental Act, which would authorize competitive grants through the Department of Education to improve K-12 geography curriculum, teacher training, and materials. Dodd is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Chairman of its Subcommittee on Children and Families.
“In the increasingly competitive and interconnected global marketplace, it is essential that we provide our nation’s youth with the tools they need to succeed,” said Dodd. “Every student’s arsenal of knowledge should include a solid understanding of America’s place in the world and our connections to the other people and places that share it with us.”
"Chris Dodd has been a leading advocate of better education through his bi-partisan efforts in the Senate,” said Bill DeGrazia, the Co-Coordinator of the Connecticut Geography Alliance. “From his days as Peace Corp volunteer in 1960's in the Dominican Republic, through his leadership on education issues, and his attention to the children of Connecticut and the United States , education has been a priority. Senator Dodd realizes that in today's world, quality geography education is essential for his daughters and all the children of our country to succeed in the twenty-first century. I applaud the Senator's leadership, along with Senator Cochran from Mississippi, on the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Bill in the Senate.”
A 2006 study by National Geographic and Roper Public Affairs found that a significant number of Americans ages 18 to 24 lack basic global knowledge. Of the respondents polled, only 40 percent were able to point out Iraq on a map of the Middle East and almost half could not locate India on a map of Asia. On a map of the United States, one third could not find Louisiana and 48 percent were unable to identify Mississippi.
Reports also reveal that elementary school geography instruction significantly improves overall student achievement; however, geography is taught by less than 9 percent of K-12 social studies teachers and not even one quarter of high school students graduate having completed a geography class. Nearly one third of our elementary schools have reduced the number of geography courses in the last few years, and only 7 percent of our nation’s fourth graders are taught by teachers with specific undergraduate or graduate experience in geography.