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NCSS Advocacy Update: Waiting in the Wings

While state legislators may be wrestling with educational budgets and priorities (see Legislative Updates/Oklahoma), major reform of the central federal law on education (known as NCLB, or No Child Left Behind) will probably have to wait until the U.S. Congress has concluded action on national health care. Meanwhile, NCSS is monitoring proposals and preparing for debates that will happen in both houses of Congress.

Regarding the House of Representatives: Susan Griffin, NCSS executive director and Della Cronin, our colleague from Washington Partners, visited the education aides in Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Chris Van Hollen's office in April 2009. NCSS supported McCollum's bill last session--introduced during the NCSS Summer Leadership Institute in July 2008--and we encouraged her to introduce it again. It would expand the sample size for National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history and civics to provide disaggregated data. In Van Hollen's office, we offered our continued support for Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) and asked to be notified of any updates or alerts that they would like communicated to our membership.

Regarding the Senate: Ted McConnell, executive director of Civic Mission of Schools Campaign (CMS); Susan Griffin; and Ellin Nolan, president of Washington Partners, visited Senator Ted Kennedy's office in April 2009 to discuss various issues related to the reauthorization of NCLB. Senators Kennedy and Lamar Alexander recently introduced bill S.659, which includes support for American history and civics. We reiterated our concern about the marginalization of the social studies disciplines currently mentioned in NCLB, but not part of "Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)": civics, economics, geography, and history. We discussed our support of the expansion of NAEP for U.S. history and civics. Ted McConnell described the CMS proposal to create an Office of Civic Learning within the U.S. Department of Education to serve as a center for innovation and ideas.

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