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September 17, 2002

Contact: Pam Bryant
Florida Board of Education
(850) 201-7361

Education Secretary Jim Horne joins President George W. Bush in announcing three initiatives to foster teaching of American history

Washington, D.C. - Florida Secretary of Education Jim Horne today joined President George W. Bush at the White House as the President announced three new initiatives designed to support the teaching of American history and civic education.

These initiatives will encourage the teaching of history in America's classrooms, will make available via the Internet documents that were part of turning points in American life, and will establish a forum for discussion of ways to make history a larger role in schools, colleges and universities.

"It is important that young people know the history of our nation, especially in these times," Secretary Horne said after the President's announcement. "Our nation has been tested many times, and in many ways, and so there is much to be learned from a study of these American experiences. The education initiatives announced here today will give students of all ages a broader knowledge and a deeper understanding of our past and of American values."

In announcing the initiatives in the Rose Garden, President Bush spoke of the value of history in imparting respect and love for our country. "Our history is not a story of perfection," the President said. "It's a story of imperfect people working toward great ideals. This flawed nation is also a really good nation, and the principles we hold are the hope of all mankind. When children are given the real history of America, they will also learn to love America."

Governor Jeb Bush agreed that learning our nation's history plays a vital role in fostering a sense of citizenship and belonging. "History is not merely an engaging course of study for our children," Governor Bush said Tuesday. "Our history is what binds us together as a nation, and the study of history - especially in a state as diverse as Florida - reminds our children of the heritage and the future we all have in common. I applaud the President for calling for greater emphasis in the teaching of history. In doing so, he is making history himself."

The three initiatives in American history and civic education are:

We the People - Administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities, "We the People" will encourage the teaching of American history and civic education. The program will provide grants to develop strong history courses; hold training seminars for schoolteachers and university faculty; sponsor a lecture series in which acclaimed scholars tell the story of great figures in American history; and enlist high school students in a national essay contest about the principles and ideals of America.

Our Documents - An innovative project run by the National Archives and the National History Day, "Our Documents" will use the Internet to bring 100 of America's most important primary documents from the National Archives to classrooms and communities across the country. It will also provide lesson plans and foster competitions and discussions about these defining moments in our history.

White House Forum on American History, Civics and Service - The forum, to be held in February 2003, will focus on discussions of new policies to improve the teaching of history and civics in elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities.

"I am excited about these new initiatives to increase our students' knowledge of American history," said Horne. "It is important that we remember our history and its significance in our lives today."

National Civic Participation Week is observed between September 11 and 17, 2002. It was designated last fall by Congress to showcase American democracy and civic participation, honor the courageous spirit of the American people and pay tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001.

President Bush was introduced by presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough. Also in attendance were Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bob Cole, National Archivist John Carlin and National History Day Executive Director Cathy Gorn, among others.