Peter Feinman: Social Studies Curriculum Resolutions


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At the annual statewide conference of social studies teachers, the NYSCSS board passed the following resolutions which have now been disseminated to the members through the NYSCSS website and publication. They express the concern by the NYSCSS over the diminished role of social studies in k-12 education and of the prospect of English teachers, more formally, ELA teachers, using historic documents to teach reading without being trained in the historical context which produced those primary source documents. It would be like teaching Shakespeare without being aware of the Elizabethan context during which he wrote.

Historic organizations have a stake in this discussion and need to have their voices heard just as the social studies teachers have. I hope there is time during the upcoming conferences of public historians and of museums to address these issues. Unfortunately since they are overlapping in April I will only be able to attend one. Following that conference I will be in Herkimer as part of the Forum on Creative Tourism. It is important to keep the discussion moving and my hope is to contribute to that effort through these posts and in reporting on conferences and events related to New York State history.

RESOLUTION #1. 2012
COUNTERING THE MARGINALIZATION OF SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION K-12 IN THE NEW YORK STATE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, BY CREATING A NEW DOCUMENT ON COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IN SOCIAL STUDIES, K-12.

RATIONALE:
The New York State Education Department’s implementation of the National Common Core Standards results in the marginalization of social studies education K-12 and reduced time spent on social studies education instruction, and the diminishing of its status as an essential subject.

WHEREAS, the National Common Core Standards emphasis on math and literacy neglects important social studies concepts, skills and understandings, and

WHEREAS, the New York State Common Core State Standards, designed to implement National Common Core Standards, with its emphasis on math and literacy, continues to neglect important social studies concepts, skills and understandings, and

WHEREAS, the New York State Education Department was a national leader/advocate of social studies education through to the late 20th century, and

WHEREAS, social studies education encompasses essential skills and knowledge for
developing effective citizenship, wise consumerism and economic literacy, global awareness, and critical thinking, and

WHEREAS, electronic circulation continues to increase the amounts of information and data students must process and understand, and

WHEREAS, social studies education is the key to a better communication between peoples and to effective citizenship, and

WHEREAS, Federal, State and Local governments have frequently reduced funding for social studies education,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York State Education Department amend the New York State Common Core State Standards by creating an additional separate, fully delineated document, Common Core State Standards in Social Studies, K-12, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President of the New York State Council for the Social Studies and the Presidents of the NYSCSS Local Affiliated Councils send this resolution to the Governor of New York State, the New York State Commissioner of Education and the appropriate authorities of the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department.

RESOLUTION #2. 2012
RECOGNITION OF SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION K-12 AS A DISTINCT SUBJECT AREA IN THE NEW YORK STATE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, AND IN THE NEW YORK STATE CURRICULA K-12, BY CREATING A NEW DOCUMENT FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IN SOCIAL STUDIES, K-12.

RATIONALE:
The New York State Education Department’s implementation of the National Common Core Standards results in the marginalization of social studies education K-12, reduced time spent on social studies education instruction, and the diminishment of its status as an essential subject, by relegating social studies education to one page incorporated into the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, K-12

WHEREAS, social studies as a K-12 subject area has a distinct definition and distinct subject content, and distinct purposes and aims, and

WHEREAS, social studies education has distinct methodologies and content that are
successively built upon in a continuum from grades K through 12, and

WHEREAS, social studies as a distinct discipline cannot be successfully taught as part of
another subject area, such as English language arts, nor in newly designated hybrid areas such as humanities education or environmental studies, and

WHEREAS, team teaching between English and Language Arts teachers and Social Studies teachers is admirable and desirable, each brings different perspectives, one in reading and expression, the other in historical and social context, that cannot be harnessed interchangeably between discipline practitioners; incorporating historical documents into reading and literacy lessons does not teach history, for it is being discussed outside historical and social contexts, and

WHEREAS, social studies education uses documents as do many other disciplines, social
studies educators use them to go beyond the mere ability to read them, but to seek answers to impotent social studies questions involving intent, judgment, cause an effect, historical context, personal context, authenticity and omission, among others, and out of historical and social context, and

WHEREAS, the New York State Education Department has not produced a major publication in Social Studies Education in more than a dozen years (1996, 1999), and

WHEREAS, the New York State Common Core State Standards, designed to implement National Common Core Standards, with its emphasis on math and literacy, neglects important social studies concepts, skills and understandings, and relegates social studies education to one page called “Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, 6-12″ (ignoring grades 1-5), in the 66 page document Common Core State Standards in English and Language Arts, K-12, and

WHEREAS, teaching social studies clearly is not properly addressed as part of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, K-12,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York State Education Department recognize social studies education K-12 as a distinct subject area in the New York State K-12 curricula and the New York State Common Core State Standards by creating an additional separate, fully delineated document, Common Core State Standards in Social Studies, K-12, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President of the New York State Council for the Social Studies and the Presidents of the NYSCSS Local Affiliated Councils send this resolution to the Governor of New York State, the New York State Commissioner of Education and the appropriate authorities of the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department.

RESOLUTION #3. 2012
COUNTERING BUDGET CUTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION, K-12.

RATIONALE:
State and local government education budget cuts often result in reduced time spent on social studies education instruction, and its status as an essential subject, and

WHEREAS, social studies education encompasses essential skills and knowledge for
developing effective citizenship, wise consumerism and economic literacy, global awareness, and critical thinking, and

WHEREAS, electronic circulation continues to increase the amounts of information and data students must process and understand, and

WHEREAS, Federal, State and Local governments have frequently reduced funding for social studies education, and

WHEREAS, the National Common Core Standards emphasis on math and literacy continues toneglect important social studies concepts, skills and understandings, and

WHEREAS, social studies education is the key to a better communication between peoples and effective citizenship, and

WHEREAS. New York State has always been a national leader/advocate of social studies
education, and

WHEREAS, the National Council for the Social Studies passed a resolution at it’s Annual
Conference in Washington, D.C. December 1-4, 2011 sponsored by its State and Local Council Affiliates, the New York State Council for the Social Studies, the Association of Teachers Social Studies — New York City, and the Middle States Council for the Social Studies, to assist state and local councils to fight budget cuts in social studies education,

BE IT RESOLVED that the New York State Council for the Social Studies prepare and
communicate materials and strategies for use by NYSCSS and NYSCSS affiliated local councils, with the help of the National Council for the Social Studies, if needed to advocate for maintaining or increasing funding social studies education, and to advocate against any diminishment of the role of social studies in the school curricula, and to support increased parental and local community involvement in sustaining these efforts.

RESOLUTION #4. 2012
DEFINING SOCIAL STUDIES AND STATING THE PURPOSE AND AIM OF SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION IN ORDER TO IDENTIFY SOCIAL STUDIES AS A DISTINCT SUBJECT AREA.

RATIONALE: In order for Social Studies to be a distinct subject area in the New York State K-12curricula, the New York State Council for the Social Studies, must define in writing the definition of social studies, and the purpose and aim of social studies education, easily accomplished by adopting the definition, purpose and aim published by the National Council for the Social Studies.

WHEREAS, it is imperative that we preserve Social Studies as a distinct subject area in the New York State K-12 Curricula, and

WHEREAS, in order to do so, we must define social studies and state the purpose and aim of social studies education in writing, and

WHEREAS, in its National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: Introduction (Revised Edition, 2011), the National Council for the Social Studies, the largest professional association for social studies educators in the world, and the national affiliate council of the New York State Council for the Social Studies, defines social studies as:

“The integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. (Adopted by NCSS in 1994), and

WHEREAS, the National Council for the Social Studies in the above publication states the primary purpose of social studies education is:

“To help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.” (Adopted by NCSS in 1994), and

WHEREAS, the National Council for the Social Studies in the above publication further
delineates the aim of social social studies as:

“The promotion of civic competence and the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. Although civic competence is not the only responsibility of social studies nor is it exclusive to the field, it is more central to social studies than to any other subject area in schools. By making civic competence a central aim, NCSS has long recognized the importance of educating students who are committed to the ideas and values of democracy. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires the abilities to use knowledge about one’s community, nation, and world; apply inquiry processes; and employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.” (Adopted by NCSS in 1994),

BE IT RESOLVED, that New York State Council for the Social Studies formally adopt the definition of Social Studies, and the purpose and aim of social studies education as published by the National Council for the Social Studies, with slight editing, as follows:

“Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences.

“The primary purpose of social studies education is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

“The aim of social studies education is the promotion of civic competence and the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. Although civic competence is not the only responsibility of social studies nor is it exclusive to the field, it is more central to social studies than to any other subject area in schools. Civic competence rests on the commitment to democratic values, and requires the abilities to use knowledge about one’s community, nation, and world; apply inquiry processes; and employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.”

Peter Feinman founder and president of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, a non-profit organization which provides enrichment programs for schools, professional development program for teachers, public programs including leading Historyhostels and Teacherhostels to the historic sites in the state, promotes county history conferences and the more effective use of New York State Heritage Weekend and the Ramble.

 

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