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Statement on the President's FY21 Budget

Democracy demands wisdom of the average man. Without the exercise of wisdom free institutions and personal liberty are inevitably imperiled. To know the best that has been thought and said in former times can make us wiser than we otherwise might be, and in this respect the humanities are not merely our, but the world’s best hope.

Commission on the Humanities, 1964

In 1965, President Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, setting up the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Since 1965, both the NEH and the NEA have provided millions of dollars in grants directly to individuals and institutions to support a wide variety of humanities and arts programs, including grants to provide professional learning opportunities to thousands of social studies, history, English, art, music, and other humanities teachers each year. On February 10, 2020, the White House released its proposed budget which would eliminate both the NEH and NEA, as well as many other government agencies and programs that support the teaching and learning of social studies and the humanities.

In addition to the proposed elimination of the NEH and NEA, President Trump’s budget calls for the elimination of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American History and Civics Academies and Grants Programs, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Civil Rights Cold Case Initiative, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 400 Years of African-American History Commission, and at least two National Park Service programs dedicated to preservation (National Coalition for History, 2020). These non-partisan programs enrich the lives of all Americans. The humanities, fine arts, and the social studies distinctively contribute to the general welfare of all people and their posterity in this great Nation. 

Today, NCSS President Dr. Tina Heafner issued the following call to action: "Cuts to these federal programs have significant implications for social studies, the sole discipline that bears the mantle of citizenship and civic preparation. NEH, as well as many of the other programs targeted for elimination or significant reductions in funding, are long-standing partners with NCSS in providing professional learning for social studies educators through summer seminars, institutes, history and cultural workshops, and the promotion of the humanities in social studies learning for PK-16 students. Investments in the NEH, NEA, and other humanities programs are investments in social studies and in the education of America’s children, youth and communities. We urge all NCSS members, as well as all educators and other Americans, to contact their representatives and senators and implore them to take action across party lines and reject this attempt to bankrupt these cultural and educational programs. We call upon bi-partisan Congressional support to request full funding for these programs to help ensure that the next generation of Americans are educated and inspired for lifelong inquiry and informed civic action."

Founded in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies is the largest professional association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. NCSS engages and supports educators in strengthening and advocating social studies. With members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 35 countries, NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, civics, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education. The NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies