Press Releases

SELBYVILLE, DE - Students and teachers in the Indian River School District will be receiving close to one million dollars to strengthen their knowledge of American history, thanks to a federal grant through the Teaching American History Program and the University of Delaware, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation announced today. The grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of Education, provides $947,547 over three years to train one hundred and fifty high school teachers on specific key areas of American history. This is the first time this funding has been awarded to Delaware. The Indian River School District will partner with the University of Delaware, the Hagley Museum, the Historical Society of Delaware, and the Delaware State Archives to enhance teacher knowledge of traditional American history and history teaching strategies. The project will provide six weeklong summer institutes held at two centers at the University of Delaware, and sixteen 2-day American history workshops held during the school year. Lesson plans and historical documents will be shared with teachers throughout the state through team-teaching, mentoring and the project website. The recently announced return of the Bill of Rights to Delaware, as well as other historical documents that will tour the state, will give a boost to these Delaware teachers who will be working to bring "I am pleased Delaware has secured this important historical funding. America's rich and complex history tells us who we are as a people and what we stand for. This money will help more history teachers reinvigorate their classroom teaching. In doing so, they will give more students the framework and perspective they need to understand and exercise their civic rights and responsibilities," said Biden. "This is the first time Delaware students or educators have been awarded this funding. The program being piloted by the University is innovative and puts Delaware teachers and students at the head of the class," Carper said. "This grant will empower scores of educators, who in turn will teach our children about the great nation they are living in. With greater access to historical documents and an even greater focus on ideas and events that shape our state and our nation, history will come alive for Delaware's students." "The history of our country is a long and proud history. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence by our Founding Fathers and the abolishment of slavery to the industrial reformation, fights for civil rights and end of the Cold War, the United States of America upholds freedom and democracy for all. We need to continue to find creative ways to teach future generations about the past, which has shaped all our lives. This partnership will work to make history real to the students of today who will influence the history of tomorrow," said Castle. As Chairman of the House Education Reform Subcommittee, Castle has jurisdiction over all K-12 education programs and has long been a proponent of increasing history and civics education. Earlier this year the Congressional Delegation helped to broker an historical agreement to bring a vital piece of Delaware history home for display during the year: Delaware's original Ratification of the Bill of Rights. Senators Biden and Carper, Congressman Castle, Governor Minner and National Archivist John Carlin signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the agreement. The Memorandum of Understanding ensures that Delaware will host the National Archives famous "American Originals" exhibit for 90 days in Delaware sometime in 2004. The exhibition, which features some of the milestone documents in American history such as the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, the Voting Journal from the Constitution Convention and Thomas Edison's patent application for the light bulb has traveled to New York City and Chicago and is currently on display in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, The National Archives will conduct a special pilot program with Delaware to display other Delaware-specific documents that are in the National Archives collection. Other Delaware documents would include letters from historical figures, other documents pertaining to the Civil War and the history of Delaware. The details of this pilot program will be worked out with Delaware Archivist Tim Slavin. Congress reauthorized the Teaching American History program last year as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, the most sweeping reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) since ESEA was enacted in 1965. It redefines the federal role in K-12 education and will help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers. It is based on four basic principles: stronger accountability for results, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work. The University of Delaware is working in cooperation with the Christina School District as well. High school teachers from the Indian River School District will be given preference, but there are positions in the program open for other teachers. For more detailed information on the program being funded, call Raymond Wolters at 302-831-2378. Wolters is a Thomas Muncy Keith Professor of History at the University of Delaware.