Tag Archives: Social Studies Curriculum

Citizenship: NYS Social Studies Conference Update


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The New York State Council for the Social Studies annual conference which I attended was held March 22-24 in Saratoga Springs. Several of the sessions were related to the new common core curriculum in social studies. The primary presenter was Larry Paska of the New York State Education. Also speaking was Regent James Dawson. In addition to the formal presentations both answered questions, Paska in a scheduled second session and Regent Dawson in an impromptu setting for close to an hour after his talk. In both sessions, teachers raised the issue of citizenship not being a goal for the proposed new curriculum. They are to prepare students for college and work but not to be adult human beings in a democratic society. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Social Studies Conference Commentary


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The New York State Council for the Social Studies annual conference was held March 22-24 in Saratoga Springs. Several of the sessions were related to the new common core curriculum in social studies.

The primary presenter was Larry Paska of the New York State Education whom Bruce Dearstyne identified in a post last week as the point person in the state for the project. Also speaking was Regent James Dawson. Continue reading

Social Studies Curriculum:Will Standardization Hurt Local History?


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The movement to evaluate teacher performance took a new turn recently. According to a press release from Governor Cuomo dated February 16, 2012: “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Commissioner John King, and New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today announced a groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide evaluation system that will make New York State a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement.” Continue reading

New Social Studies Curriculum: The Time to Act is Now


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Bruce Dearstyne’s recent post, Historical Societies: Getting Past Hard Times, raises a number of disturbing issues. The story of the tribulations of the Saratoga County Historical Society is one of concern. The Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education (IHARE) has had several Teacherhostels / Historyhostels in Saratoga County mostly relating to the Battle of Saratoga and also in Waterford. Last summer as part of a Teaching American History grant, a group of teachers from Vermont stayed in Clifton Park while learning about the battle. I have had email exchanges with Brookside’s Executive Director Joy Houle about the possibility of having a Saratoga County History Conference there as was done in the Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Why is the Press Indifferent to History?How Do We Communicate History?


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At the recently concluded annual conference of the American Historical Association, in addition to the passionate discussions about “NO HISTORY JOBS! NO HISTORY JOBS! NO HISTORY JOBS!” featured in my previous post, there were four panels on “Historians, Journalists, and the Challenges of Getting It Right.” Excerpts from a report by Rick Shenkman, publisher and editor-in-chief of the History News Network on these presentations follow [his full report is online]. Continue reading

Strengthening the Historical Enterprise


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Several recent posts on this site have demonstrated the robustness and diversity of New York’s historical programs but also pointed to the limitations, challenges, and potential for much greater achievement. The special issue of the Public Historian on “Strengthening the Management of State History: Issues, Perspectives, and Insights from New York” last August analyzed these same issues.

That discussion needs to continue. In fact, we are overdue for an examination of the state’s historical enterprise and discussion of ways of boosting its effectiveness and impact.
New York is one of the nation’s oldest states, with a history stretching back more than 400 years. Continue reading

History Canceled:Regents Eliminates History Assesments


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The New York State Board of Regents voted to approve two sets of strategies to achieve cost reductions in the state assessment program at its full Board meeting in Albany this week. History educators will no doubt be appalled at the elimination of 5th and 8th grade Social Studies examinations, which include the history curriculum. The two plans were laid out in a press release:

* If the State budget includes the $7 million that the Regents have requested for the assessment program, the Board approved a cost reduction of $4.25 million to be achieved through reduced reliance on educational specialists in developing tests ($1.25 million), discontinuance of paper-based scoring materials for examinations ($.60 million), elimination of component retesting for high school Math and English exams ($1.6 million), and elimination of 5th and 8th grade Social Studies examinations ($.80 million).

* If the State budget does not include the $7 million that the Regents have requested, or a final State Budget is not in place by August 1, 2010, the Board approved additional reductions of $6.1 million to further offset the deficit. These reductions would be achieved by eliminating Grade 8 second language proficiency exams ($2.0 million), eliminating August administration of Algebra II/Trigonometry and Chemistry high school Regents exams ($.8 million), eliminating all high school Foreign Language exams except for Spanish and French($1.2 million), an immediate end to translation of state assessments into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean, and Russian while continuing translation into Spanish ($.75 million), and eliminating January high school Regents exams ($1.4 million).

Should additional funds be included in the P-12 budget the reductions listed last in the priority order above would be the first to be restored.

“These were tough decisions made in light of the State’s difficult financial situation” Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, “Foremost in our consideration was the concern we heard from stakeholders across the State that the cuts to the assessment program made to achieve savings should not have an impact on high school graduation.”

Background on these decisions was also provided in the press release, as follows:

The State Education Department’s expense to operate the assessment program continues to rise in light of the State’s fiscal crisis as a result of several factors including: inflation, the addition of examinations, increased cost of testing vendor contracts, and the need for more test security. Based on the Executive Budget, SED projects a deficit of approximately $11.5 million in available funding in 2010-11 for P-12 programs, including the assessment program. The Regents have requested $7 million in additional State funds for the assessment program from the Legislature. The State Education Department has limited ability to address the P-12 deficit by redirecting federal or state funds dedicated to specific purposes by title or statute. SED will explore further internal cost reduction strategies to eliminate the remaining deficit of $1.1 million in the P-12 budget.

Full details of the cost reduction strategies the Board of Regents approved are on the web.

A webcast of the full board meeting of the Board of Regents is also available online.

State Archives Launches New Tool for Educators


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Students, researchers, and lovers of New York State history from around the world will have a better sense of the types of records held by the New York State Archives with the launch of Document Showcase, a quarterly feature on the New York State Archives’ website that will highlight iconic records by investigating specific historical topics.

Quarterly Document Showcase submissions will feature a display of 3-5 hand-picked historical records on a selected topic, background information on those records, a link to educational activities for classroom use, and other related information. All learning activities are being developed by classroom teachers, are based on the New York 7th and 8th grade social studies core curriculum, and relate to New York State learning standards.

October’s edition of Document Showcase examines industrialization and child labor in New York State. The records include: a Factory Investigating Commission brief sent to the state Supreme Court supporting restrictions on the manufacture of goods in tenement houses; letters for and against child labor from Governor Lehman’s subject and
correspondence files; excerpts from chapter 529 of the laws of 1913 restricting child labor; and a union label from the Cigar Makers’ International Union of America expressing opposition to tenement-house manufacturing and other non-union labor. The records of the Factory Investigating Commission, created after the devastating Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911, uncovered a range of substandard working conditions being experienced by low paid factory workers throughout New York State, many of whom were immigrants and/or women and children.

The Document Showcase is accessed from the State Archives website: www.archives.nysed.gov and select “Document Showcase” under “News and Events.”