In order to build broad public support for the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) and to raise awareness about the lack of federal funding for geography education, Speak Up For Geography: The 10,000 Letter Challenge aimed to send 10,000 letters to Congress via SpeakUpForGeography.org by the end of Geography Awareness Week 2011.
Thanks to the support of numerous individuals and organizations such as NCGE, the Association of American Geographers, National Geographic Education, Esri, the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, the National Geographic Alliance Network, and others, the challenge met its goal.
As of December 8, more than 10,750 letters have been sent to members of Congress in support of TGIF, and five additional members of Congress became TGIF co-sponsors during the 10,000 Letter Challenge.
The legislation provides funding for teacher professional development to improve students’ understanding of the world in which they live. This funding is necessary because federal education legislation recognizes geography as a “core academic subject,” but unlike other core subjects such as history, civics, economics, foreign languages, and the arts, there is no federal funding dedicated to advancing geography education.
Although we met our goal, many more people need to take action. As Congress moves forward on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is critical that supporters of geography education make our voices are heard.
Everyone who recognizes the importance of geography in K-12 classrooms should go to
SpeakUpForGeography.org. The website will automatically draft and send letters in support of TGIF based on the address the website visitor provides.
Even if you think your senators and representative will not co-sponsor the legislation, it is important that your voice is heard. The website tallies all of the letters sent. This information will be used to demonstrate the support for geography teaching across the United States.
There are no restrictions on who may use the SpeakUpForGeography.org website. Everyone living in the United States—including non-registered voters and non-citizens—is eligible to contact members of Congress.
How you can get involved
- If you have not already done so, make your voice heard at SpeakUpForGeography.org.
- Ask your friends and colleagues to make their voices heard at SpeakUpForGeography.org.
- Post SpeakUpForGeography.org to your Facebook page, share it on Google+, or tweet about the campaign (#speakupforgeography).
- Share the promotional videos available on Youtube.
Waverly Ray is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at Texas State University-San Marcos and the 2011–2012 Grosvenor Scholar at National Geographic Education.