Geography got some prominent support recently when three of the country’s former top diplomats urged Congress to support funding for geographic education.
The Association of American Geographers (AAG) enlisted the support of former Secretaries of State George Shultz, James Baker III, and Madeleine Albright (pictured left to right). They called on Congress to “include authorizations and appropriations for geography education consistent with other core academic subjects for K-12, as part of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),” according to an AAG statement.
The resolution supports the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act and advocates for the inclusion of geography in proposals for improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
“Geography is the only one of the ten core academic subjects identified in the ESEA that does not have a specific funding authorization in the national program designed to support its teaching,” said Douglas Richardson, AAG executive director, in the statement. “As Congress works on reauthorizing the ESEA, this oversight must be addressed.”
Because the State Department carries out American foreign policy and international relations, the former secretaries have unique perspectives of the importance of geographic literacy.
“I witnessed firsthand how important it was that Americans understood geography and the world around them,” said Baker. “Since then, as countries have become even more interconnected, that need has grown.”
Shultz served during the Reagan administration. Baker served in the first President Bush’s administration, and Albright served during President Clinton’s second term.