Thursday, November 20, 2014

Questions for the NEH Chairman

Today, sometime from 10-12 (I assume the second hour), the Chairman of the NEH is going to be on air with Diane Rehm. You can listen here.

You can call in.

The Chairman does not talk to me, nor do I expect him to. I'm a nobody. The Director of Communications at the NEH does talk to me, or did, anyway, until yesterday (more on that in a moment). There have hundreds and hundreds of you supporting me in my work on the NEH.

Now I need your support. I need you to call the show. I can't. I'm acting as a journalist here. If I call in, I am trying to get an ambush interview, and that's not ethical. But you, as academics and citizens and people concerned about the NEH can. Please call. Flood the line. Be polite.

Here's why the NEH stopped talking to me.
Dear Judy [NEH Communications Director Judy Havermann]

Sorry, another question. I know these are small things, but I like to get the details right.

On August 26th, Jeff Thomas sent an email to Larry Myers and Adam Wolfson. Thomas asked them to do some "back-of-the-envelope tally of all the 'extra' funds we agreed to provide at OMB Level 2?"

Given my FOIA request, the natural conclusion is that Thomas is discussing money saved by canceling the overseas seminar program.  Otherwise the email would be non-germane. Would someone like to confirm that?

Also, to my knowledge the following numbers have not been made public.

1. How much money will be saved by eliminating overseas seminars.
2. Where that money will go.
3. Whether the total funds spent on summer seminars and institutes will be reduced or maintained at the same level, just re-focused domestically.

I'd obviously like those numbers, but I'd be content to say that the NEH hasn't made them public.

Thanks,
David
Judy replied:
  Dear David,
 We have done our best to explain why we made this decision, and have sent you all the files that we have on it.   I think we will just have to leave it at that. 
Judy
Here are some other things I know.

Bro Adams took over on July 22 and told everyone to cut their budgets.

By the end of August, the Education Division had decided to cut overseas summer programs.

In my FOIA request, THERE IS NO BUDGET DOCUMENT, not even a redacted one. I am genuinely unsure whether they even know how much money they are going to save, and I suspect the number is basically 0. The foreign seminars are, though, usually 5 weeks, which is more expensive, so they may do more shorter seminars and save a few tens of thousands of dollars that way.

At any rate, call in and ask Bro Adams about the seminars. Ask him what programs could have MORE impact than sending high school teachers, especially in social studies, history, and language, to learn and work abroad, to build international contacts. Ask him something.

Thanks.

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