Grossman: Call your Congressman and Save International Studies in the US!

The current House of Representatives don’t hold with Amurkins knowin’ ’bout furriners, and seems determined to defund federal support for international studies in the US. The Neoconservative lobbyists have been gunning for these programs for years and want the money given to rightwing think tanks in Washington instead. And whereas in the old days, senatorial lions would roar back and protect this key resource, Sen. Reid & co. have folded on this one. This step represents a rollback of everything achieved since Sputnik reminded Americans that they are not the only game in town. The programs being cut are in Federal terms funded at the peanuts level and no real savings are had, but they leverage the big universities into being more supportive of less-taught languages, e.g. Please follow the instructions below if you care about America’s ability to understand the world and compete in it.

Jim Grossman of the American Historical Association writes:

Dear Colleagues,

. . . tis the season of the budget in Congress, and this is an important one—as is NEH funding, which will be the subject of an additional appeal in the near future.

This is Title VI / Fulbright-Hays, an essential aspect of the infrastructure of research and education in areas beyond the boundaries of the United States. Many of you will be familiar with these programs. For those who are not, I can say with confidence that they are essential to our mission. The AHA Council has declared Title VI/Fulbright-Hays as one of the highest legislative priorities as we look at funding cuts in various sectors.

Background

The U.S. Department of Education’s International Education and Foreign Language Studies (IEFLS) programs, including HEA-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs, form the vital infrastructure of the federal government’s investment in the international service pipeline. The 14 IEFLS programs support comprehensive language and area study centers with the United States, research and curriculum development, opportunities for American scholars to study abroad, and activities to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in international service.

The Fulbright-Hays programs are of particular importance to historians because of the resources they provide for research and education relating to foreign languages and cultures. Funding opportunities include:

Short-term study and travel seminars abroad for U.S. educators in history and related disciplines for the purpose of improving their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries.

Grants to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in languages and area studies

Grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months.

Funding for the Department of Education’s Title VI/Fulbright-Hays International Education programs was cut $50 million (or 40%) from $126 million in FY 2010 to $76 million in FY 2011).

Congress did not complete work on the FY 2012 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Bill before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. A short-term Continuing Resolution for FY 2012 was enacted through November 18 at the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution levels, minus an additional 1.5% across-the-board cut.

Current Status

In the Senate Appropriations Committee’s version of the FY 2012 Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill (S. 1599), all programs in the higher education account—including Title VI and Fulbright-Hays—are continued at the FY 2011 levels. Thus, a 40% decline from 2010 levels, which seriously threatens these crucial programs.

While the House Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to take up its version of the bill, Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has released a “draft” FY 2012 funding bill that eliminates funding Fulbright-Hays and the Title VI-C, Institute for International Public Policy. Title VI-A&B would be funded at the FY 2011 level.

Action Needed

If you are in the congressional district or state of the Members on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees (see list below) call and urge their support for “holding the line” on funding, that is to say, no more cuts to Title VI/FH in FY 2012. Emphasize the impact of these programs in the Member’s district/state and on the national interest overall. We strongly encourage you to personalize this message. Working off the basic script below, tell Congress, in your own words, why one or more of the Title VI/Fulbright Hays programs are important to you (and/or your institution).

You can call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Representative or Senator’s office, or you can call directly. If you know the name of the staffer who works on appropriations policy, you can send an email or call and ask to leave a message for that person. If you don’t know the staffer’s name, phone the appropriate number below and ask if you can leave a voice mail message for the person who handles appropriations issues for the Member.

Time is of the essence. Congressional staffers are negotiating agreements on the Labor/HHS/Education FY 2012 appropriations bills now.

Message

My name is _____ and I am calling from (place name in state). I want to urge Representative/Senator to oppose further cuts in Title VI international education programs.

Title VI higher education programs have already sustained a $50 million or 40% reduction in the FY 2011 Budget. Currently the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY 2012 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill are being reconciled.

I urge you to consider the important federal role played by these international and foreign language education programs in supporting our nation’s long-term national security, global leadership and economic competitiveness capabilities. Successful U.S. engagement in these areas, at home or abroad, relies on Americans with global competence.

Instruction is provided in over 130 languages and 10 world areas, with emphasis on the less commonly-taught, strategic languages and areas of the world. Most of these languages would not be taught on a regular basis but for this support.

I strongly urge you to safeguard these programs from further reductions by providing no less than the FY 2011 level of $75.729 million provided in the Senate committee bill. This includes $66.712 million for the Higher Education Act, Title VI-A&B; $7.465 million for Fulbright-Hays 102(b)(6); and $1.552 million for the Title VI-C Institute for International Public Policy.

Thank you for your time.

——
Jim Grossman
Executive Director
American Historical Association

——–

Truth in advertising: Juan Cole directs a Title VI National Resource Center at the University of Michigan.

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5 Responses

  1. This federal program would support a young scholar who might someday produce writing that is similar to the vastly knowledgeable and intelligent Informed Comment, but I am sorry Juan, I will not be regretful if it is killed by the Republican Congress.

    A global economy requires that Americans be conversant with other cultures; an imperial power also needs to communicate with foreign countries. Wall Street and the GOP might regret their commitment to ignorance, but so be it.

    • Have you considered the possibility that the Right Wing wants to isolate Americans from the outside world so that it can prevent them from considering alternatives? Like single-payer health care?

      A couple of years ago I was leaving a Kroger supermarket in the Houston Heights, a relatively progressive neighborhood, and outside the Christians were raising money to send missionaries to – Western Europe! Yes, those poor backward savages, tolerating mosques in their very midst, spending more money on social welfare than on weaponry, they have to be rescued from their darkness…

      And the more propaganda I hear, from Fox, from gun magazines, even from the way our mainstream media covers Europe’s remarkably non-lethal riots versus our ordinary, patriotic, wholesome white-on-white murder toll, I see what the bastards are trying to sell: the idea that the outside world is moving backward into the 21st century, while America is moving forward into the 19th century, with hip, cool privatized prisons and highways and social security, with the freedom to work 60-hour weeks with no safety regulations, with the opportunity to get rich off of labor reduced to Asian-level wages. Why, we even see business stories decrying China’s rapidly rising wages. How backwards of them!

      And that, ma’am, is why we must have a lifeline of sanity to the outside world. We will run out of educated people and money long before we run out of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. What will our idiocracy do then?

      • Responding to super390 on the importance of academic inquiry.
        I’m a biologist threatened by those same right-wingers who would outlaw the study of evolution, but I have invisible allies. American farmers mix antibiotics with their cattle and pig feed so the bacteria inside them develop resistance, which eventually makes those drugs worthless. Scientists develop better drugs; bacteria evolve to fight back. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was an initial result which now kills more Americans than AIDS. This is an example of natural selection.

        I believe in these Bible verses which I call my scientist’s creed. You might point them out to people in Houston.

        He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. Matthew 5:45
        Truth endureth and is always strong. It liveth and conquereth for evermore. Esdras 4:38

        • Peggy,

          I don’t doubt that America will be made to pay a price for fomenting ignorance. I am concerned about how many innocent bystanders will get dragged down with us.

          As for truth, I think the Christian Right believes the facts change, while the truth is perpetual, which means you can ignore science or even buy favorable science if it converts more heathens to their monopoly of truth. I am very interested in how these monsters intend to keep America on top of the world once they’ve Lysenkofied our educational system; I am very concerned that they consider it Truth that God made America the recipient of nuclear supremacy, and He damn well meant for us to use it to dominate others.

          (For more evidence as to the depth of their schemings, go to talk2action.org and dig deep. The stuff on Christian extremist homeschooling curricula is exactly what I’m afraid of.)

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