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FEBRUARY 2009 NEWSLETTER
Got 5 Minutes to Help?

Did you know that geography is the ONLY unfunded subject under No Child Left Behind? That's unacceptable! So far, My Wonderful World (MWW) members have sent more than 11,000 emails to Congress urging lawmakers to "put the world back into a world-class education"—proof that we've got a "can-do" campaign. This month, please visit the My Wonderful World Web site and ask Congress to introduce a bill to support geography education. (It took me just five minutes and I felt good all day long.) Next month, I want to report back that Washington listened, but that means you have to raise your voice today—all 85,000 of you.

Christopher Shearer, MWW Director

Tell Congress to Make Geography Education a Priority
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In light of the importance of geographic knowledge and skills to the future of the nation, this month we're asking you to tell Congress to make geography education a priority. It's easy; just use the Notify Your Lawmakers tool on MyWonderfulWorld.org. A message will be sent directly to President Obama and your representatives in Congress!

A glance at the policy statements on the new presidential administration's Web site reveals that the issues President Barack Obama and Congress will address in the coming months all have core geographic components: energy independence and climate change (environment, international geopolitics); accessible health care for all (medical geography, demographics); public education (K–12 geography!); even dealing with the ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (emergency preparedness, land-use planning).


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Letters sent to Congress in support of geography education:
11,457

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HOT THIS MONTH
Preparing "Generation G"
Photo: sidebarOur own Danny Edelson, vice president for education at the National Geographic Society, recently authored an op-ed for Education Week. In his commentary, Edelson makes the case that restoring geographic education in the K–12 curriculum is necessary to prepare the current generation of students for an increasingly globalized world. Read the full text article titled "Geography and Generation G," and then tell us what you think on the blog.
Asia Society National Policy Statement on International Education
Photo: sidebarAsia Society, a member of the My Wonderful World coalition, recently released a policy statement on international education. The report calls for the new administration to "Redesign high schools to prepare graduates who are college-ready and globally competent; invest in teacher training in international subject matter; and expand international teacher and student exchange programs," among other recommendations.
I'm Just a Bill
Photo: sidebarThe administration is new, but the legislative process remains the same. Review how a bill becomes a law with this Schoolhouse Rock video—a classic! Then check out the proposed bills on the floor in the Senate and the House, and find a political advocacy group to help create change of your own. Don't forget to use our Notify Your Lawmakers tool to take action on behalf of geography education!
Eyes on the Prize Educator Resources
Photo: sidebar Eyes on the Prize is a multipart documentary about the Civil Rights Movement (1954–1985) that has been described as "required watching" and "indispensable" by New York and Time magazines. Teachers: Visit the PBS Web site, where you can access the entire Eyes on the Prize series along with study guides and classroom activities, invaluable resources for celebrating Black History Month.


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Take Action
Photo:Brown v. Board of Education: A Geographic Review

It's Black History Month! As we urge geographic education reform, we remember the landmark educational legislation that changed the course and composition of American schools. In 1954, the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education called for an end to segregation in U.S. institutions of learning. Click the Read More link for information and educator resources on how implementation of the law varied by geographic location across the country, and how it continues to be an issue even today.

Improving intercultural relations in the long term goes beyond policy change; it also requires social action. Break down barriers in your school. An initiative called Mix It Up from the Teaching Tolerance program of the renowned Southern Poverty Law Center invites students to challenge the status quo by picking a new seat in the cafeteria.
Read more >

Take Action
Photo:The Guantánamo Bay Conundrum

The closing of Guantánamo Bay was one of President Obama's chief promises on the campaign trail and one of the first executive orders issued this January. The prison camp, which houses 250 inmates on the southern coast of Cuba, will be gradually shut down over the next year. Yet the question remains as to where former detainees will be sent. Fifty to one hundred detainees await federal or military trial and will be placed into the U.S. prison system, but nearly one hundred fifty prisoners remain in international limbo. With U.S. penitentiaries protesting the absorption of potentially dangerous prisoners, and the prisoners' countries of origin refusing to readmit them abroad, the closing of Gitmo will challenge ideas of federal security and national identity.

How can a geographic perspective help U.S. decision makers solve the problem of what to do with Guantánamo prisoners? We'd love to hear from you on our blog about this controversial issue.
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Take Action
Arne Duncan Appointed Education Secretary

In January, President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, the young superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, to be the United States Secretary of Education. Although never a teacher, Duncan is an experienced administrator, and he embodies Barack Obama's educational goals. What does his appointment mean for geography education? Read the new blog entry by MWW director Chris Shearer to find out.
Read more >
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