The Future of American History Education: What Now?

As the Trump presidency comes to an end, many questions have been raised about its impact and legacy on a range of policy issues and priorities for the country. The future of American history education, particularly for K–12 students, is one area where the impact could be felt for years.

Responding to recent controversies such as The New York Times’s "1619 Project" and widespread calls to remove Confederate monuments, President Trump issued an executive order establishing a new “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” in schools. Whether or not the Biden administration continues the commission, the focus on what should be taught about America’s founding and heritage, how constitutional issues and historical topics such as slavery should be conveyed to students, and how to teach the full and complex story of our constitutional democracy will remain a significant educational debate for years to come.

This program will look at the state of this debate from a range of perspectives and discuss the future of American history education. The program will be held on January 6, the historic constitutional day when the U.S. Congress officially counts the electoral votes from the presidential election.

About the Panelists

Jane Kamensky is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University and the Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her most recent book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (2016), won four prizes, including the New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize, and was a finalist for several others. Working with colleagues across the United States, she serves as one of the principal investigators in the NEH/ Department of Education-funded project “Educating for American Democracy: A Roadmap for Excellence in History and Civics Education for All Learners.”

Ian Rowe is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation and adoption. Mr. Rowe is also the cofounder of Vertex Partnership Academies, a new network of character-based International Baccalaureate high schools opening in the Bronx in 2022; the chairman of the board of Spence-Chapin, a nonprofit adoption services organization; and the cofounder of the National Summer School Initiative. He concurrently serves as a senior visiting fellow at the Woodson Center and a writer for the 1776 Unites Campaign. Until July 1, 2020, Rowe was CEO of Public Prep, a nonprofit network of public charter schools based in the South Bronx and Lower East Side of Manhattan. Before joining Public Prep, he was deputy director of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and public affairs at MTV, director of strategy and performance measurement at the USA Freedom Corps office in the White House, and cofounder and president of Third Millennium Media. Mr. Rowe also joined Teach for America in its early days.

Michelle Herczog, Ed.D. is History-Social Science Coordinator III for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, responsible for providing professional development, resources and support for K–12 social studies educators throughout the 80 school districts of Los Angeles County.  She currently serves on the Power of Democracy Steering Committee  and completed service on the California Task Force on K–12 Civic Learning. Dr. Herczog has also served as vice-chair of the California Instructional Quality Commission for the California State Board of Education, president of the National Council for the Social Studies, and president of California Council for the Social Studies. As a member of the Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction (SSACI) Committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers, she helped develop the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards published by the National Council for the Social Studies.

Image - Jane Kamensky

Jane Kamensky

Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University

Image - Ian Rowe

Ian Rowe

Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Image - Michelle Herczog

Michelle Herczog

History-Social Science, Coordinator III for the Los Angeles County Office of Education

Image - Yoni Appelbaum

Yoni Appelbaum

Senior Editor, The Atlantic—Moderator