History is threatened in Ohio and your actions showed that it matters to you. In fact, 1,458 of you sent almost 4,200 messages to your state elected leaders in less than 6 months asking them to invest in our state's history. It was difficult to predict just how challenging 2009 would prove to be for history advocates like us.
Consider what happened:
- An enormous federal stimulus package was enacted by Congress that largely ignored any specific dollars for historic preservation. While stimulus funds come to Ohio for a multitude of purposes, preserving older buildings (included in a much smaller previous stimulus package) is not among them, despite the proven economic stimulus effect.
- The Ohio Historical Society's state budget was slashed 42 percent from 2008 levels ($13.5 million to just $7.9 million), the lowest level of state investment in the Society since 1986.
- The same state budget dropped standardized tests for 5th and 8th grade social studies (4th and 7th grade writing tests were also eliminated), ensuring that social studies and history will get even less classroom attention.
- A new Ohio Historical Society income tax check-off provision that was in the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of the state budget was mysteriously removed at the last minute. The Society had planned to use the voluntary contributions from the tax check-off for a competitive matching grants program to benefit local history-related organizations.
You can still contact your elected representatives and tell them what you think by clicking here.
For sure, 2009 has been a tough year for most Ohioans. Those of us who are passionate about history and preservation must keep speaking up and ensure that an honest exchange of ideas continues. History is not just about looking back, but being informed about how to move forward. It's about our identity. Please join us for an online discussion. Tell us what you think. Have a favorite memory or encounter with history? Got a little-known nugget about Ohio history to share? Tell us about it. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to stay connected.
Read the Sunday, August 2, 2009 editorial printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by clicking here.