The legislation introduced by Sen. Brewer (D-Barre) and Rep. Smola (R-Palmer) has been reported favorably from the Joint Committee on Education. Thanks to the many members of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance and other advocates of geography who have brought us to the point.
Over the course of the winter, the bill was modified (in consultation with the sponsors) so that its main impact would be the creation of a formal Commission to study the status of geographic education in the Commonwealth. The bill is currently being reviewed in the Ways and Means Committee, and we expect it to be debated in both houses soon.
An Act relative to geography education in Massachusetts.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 1G of Chapter 15 of the Massachusetts General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 official addition, is hereby amended in striking out the seventh paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:-
“The council on global education shall include the directors of each of the bay state centers for global education and a representative from the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance.”
SECTION 2. (a) There is hereby established a commission on geography education, to consist of 8 members: a member of the council on global education, to be appointed by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, who shall serve as chair; a representative from the department of elementary and secondary education to be appointed by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education; 2 members to be appointed by the secretary of labor and workforce development, 1 of whom shall be a representative of the alternative energy industry and 1 of whom shall be a representative of the geo-technology industry; and 4 members to be appointed by the Governor: 1 of whom shall be a public university professor or administrator in the Commonwealth to be selected from a group of 3 nominees submitted by the New England and St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society, 1 of whom shall be a teacher with expertise in geography education to be selected from a list of three nominees submitted by the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts, 1 of whom shall be a teacher with expertise in geography education to be selected from a list of three nominees submitted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and 1 of whom shall be a representative from the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance to be selected from a group of 3 nominees to be submitted by the executive committee of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance.
(b) The commission shall be convened by the chair not later than 60 days after the effective date of this act whether or not all of the designees have been appointed.
(c) The commission shall make an investigation and study of the status of geography education including, but not limited to:
1) an assessment of the status of geography education from kindergarten through grade 12 in the Massachusetts history and social science frameworks; (2) an investigation of the status of programs that promote geography education and whether the curriculum frameworks and overall educational goals of the commonwealth could be cost-effectively enhanced through cooperation among public educational entities and those programs; (3) an assessment of best practices in geography education in the United States, including the national geography standards, that could serve as models for improving geography education in the Commonwealth; and (4) any other matters that the commission considers relevant to the fulfillment of its mission and purpose.(d) The Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, under the oversight of the commission co-chairs, shall provide staff and other resources as the commission considers appropriate. The commission shall report to the general court the results of its investigation and study and its recommendations, if any, together with drafts of legislation necessary to carry out such recommendations, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and the house and who shall forward the same to the chairs of the joint committee on education and the chairs of the house and senate committees on ways and means not later than December 31, 2012.
SECTION 3. The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart the first week of April as Massachusetts Geography Education week.