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What would you say to your Senator?

I get the chance this week to spend time with some pretty amazing people. Michelle Herczog. Peggy Jackson. Kim O’Neil. All leaders of the National Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors. And almost 30 other social studies educators from around the country representing state level councils.

We’re meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to support classroom teachers and to advocate for the Social Studies at the local, state, and federal level. Good times. Seriously. I mean, how often does someone like me get the chance to hang out with the movers and shakers of the social studies world? These are all excellent classroom teachers, committed to social studies, and history geeks like me. So I’m loving it.

We’ve had formal and informal conversations about all sorts of stuff and will continue those conversations through tomorrow. But one of the main reasons we’re here is to chat with representatives from the House and Senate, urging continued support for the teaching of high-quality social studies across the country.

Later today, I’ll be meeting with staff members from Senator Jerry Moran’s office to discuss the state of social studies in Kansas and across the country. Senator Moran has been supportive of education and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things that the NCSS thinks are important:

  • Funding for competitive grants that support innovative history and civics instruction that could perhaps be used like the Teaching American History grants.
  • Support for social studies funding in the re-authorization of the ESEA.
  • Enacting the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Learning Act.
  • Enacting the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act.

I understand the importance of social studies instruction. You do too. And if you’ve been here at History Tech before, you know I talk about that a lot so I promise not to go off on a rant this morning. But I continue to run across school districts that tell K-6 teachers not to spend time on social studies. I continue to run across middle and high school teachers who mean well and are working hard but who do not have strong backgrounds in social studies content or skills.

I continue to see social studies pushed aside because it’s not tested or because it’s hard to teach or because it’s seen as something extra to do on Friday afternoon when most of the kids are off getting some sort of ELA or math remediation.

Okay. A bit of a rant.

It will be an interesting conversation. So. If you had the chance to talk with your Representative or Senator, what would you say? What would you say to people at your local and state levels?

What’s important to you that politicians need to know about social studies?




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