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Senate Passes ESEA

NCSS lobbyist Catriona Macdonald has informed us that Senator Peters’ amendment to allow parent engagement funds to also be used to support financial literacy activities was adopted by voice vote and added to the ESEA bill today on the Senate floor.  This means that, for the first time since 2011, there is a real possibility of continuous, dedicated federal funding for all four of the social studies disciplines. The Senate subsequently moved to final passage, and passed the bill with 81 bipartisan votes.

The legislation will now move to conference with the House bill, which does not include any programs or funding for history, civics, geography or economics.  It is vitally important that the maximum possible number of Representatives express their support for the Senate social studies provisions so they can be included in the final legislation when it is sent to the President for signature. 
We will be sending out an alert very soon regarding a House 'Dear Colleague' letter urging House conferees to agree to the Senate language on Civics, American History, Financial Literacy/Economics and Geography. Please plan now to get alerts out to your constituencies urging they contact their members of the US House of Representatives to sign-on to the 'Dear Colleague' letter to the Conferees. 

A big thank you to each and everyone of you that continues to reach out to Congress -- together we are making a difference!

More details

from EdWeek

Social Studies not 'Left Behind' in Senate ESEA Bill

On April 7, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray unveiled their long-anticipated compromise measure to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka NCLB or ESEA.) The social studies were not 'left behind' in the Senators' bill.

What's Included

Title II of the proposed bill ("High Quality Teachers, Principals and other School Leaders") contains (under section 2003) provisions for the teaching of "American history and civics education." This section of the bill creates three competitive grant programs for social studies subjects. The authorizing language states: "The Secretary (of Education) is authorized to carry out an American history and civics education program to improve education by educating students about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States, including the bill of rights, and elevating the quality of teaching of American history, civics and government."

Section 2302 of Title II, creates a competitive grant program that would award grants to local education agencies (LEAs) to carry out activities promoting the teaching of traditional American history 1 in elementary and secondary schools as a separate academic subject and not a component of social studies, and for the development of programs to teach traditional American history as a separate academic subject, including professional development and teacher education activities. LEAs must partner with an institution of higher education or a nonprofit history or humanities organization, library or museum. Grants are maximum five years. Will receive 85% of this section's appropriations.

Section 2303, creates 'Presidential and Congressional academies for American history and civics.' Up to 12 grants shall be awarded to entities with demonstrated expertise in historical methodology or the teaching of American history and civics, or a consortium thereof. Presidential Academies shall offer summer seminars or institutes for teachers to provide intensive professional development opportunities, led by a team of primary scholars and core teachers accomplished in American history and civics, or at least two weeks in duration. Each academy shall select between 50-300 teachers to attend the seminar, and each teacher shall be awarded a stipend to attend. Congressional Academies shall be offered to students who are sophomores or juniors in high school. Will receive 10% of this section's appropriations.

Section 2304, creates a competitive grant program to promote innovative strategies to promote innovative instruction in history, civics and geography stressing serving currently under-served school populations. Grants will be awarded for developing, implementing and disseminating for voluntary use, innovative, evidence-based approaches to civic learning and American history, which may include hands-on civic engagement activities for teachers and students, that demonstrate innovation,scalability, accountability, and a focus on underserved populations. Grants may be for professional development. Grants shall be awarded for 3 years. Institutions of higher education or other non-profits or for profit organizations are eligible to apply. Will receive 5% of this section's appropriations.

What's Next

The Senate HELP Committee will markup this bill on April 14. The committee will pass this bill by the end of the month or early in May and the full Senate is expected to vote on the reauthorization bill by the end of the summer. The US House has not yet passed a companion reauthorization bill. Senate passage of the reauthorization will put great pressure on the House to act. Once the House Committee and full US House has passed a bill, the Senate and House will reconcile the versions.

This is the first time since 2011 that any Congressional action has offered the promise of Federal level funding for the social studies. This sends a powerful message that the social studies are important and valued, but it is vitally important that social studies professionals continue to advocate for these provisions at each step in the process. We also need to lobby to include funding in this year's appropriations bills.

How you can help

Sign-up for legislative alert emails from the NCSS Action Center. NCSS will keep you informed, and suggest ways you can advocate for social studies. Progress so far is thanks to our members, board and committee leadership, and the state and local council leaders who contacted legislators based on action requests over the past several weeks. We are joined in our efforts by our partners at the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, National Coalition for History, Generation Citizen and Cat Macdonald, NCSS legislative advocate. There is work to be done, and you can make a difference by adding your voice.

  1. The term 'Traditional American History' was applied to the Teach American History (TAH) Program.

2015 NCSS Election Results

Terry Cherry, teacher at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, TX has been elected as vice-president of National Council for the Social Studies and is line to assume the NCSS presidency 2017-2018. Terry has previously served a term on the NCSS board of directors. He has also served on the boards of the Texas Council for the Social Studies and Garland Garland Council for the Social Studies, including terms as president of each.

Also elected to three-year terms on the NCSS Board of Directors are:

  • Mary Ellen Daneels, Community High School, West Chicago, IL
  • David Klemm, Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, Muskegon, MI
  • Jennifer Morgan, West Salem Middle School, West Salem, WI
  • Stephanie Wager, Iowa Department of Education, Des Moines, IA

Message to Congress: Don’t Leave Social Studies Behind


Events around the world increasingly demand informed, engaged, critical thinkers and problem solvers – knowledge and skills found in the teaching of the civics, economics, geography, history, psychology, sociology, philosophy and the humanities.

Schools in affluent communities with high test scores are more likely to provide students with a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum. But all too many schools have abandoned the social studies, producing an unprepared citizenry entering the adult world. This is illustrated by the results of the last National Assessment of Educational Progress exam in history and civics, administered in 2010. It showed that fewer than one-quarter of fourth, eighth and twelfth graders demonstrated minimal proficiency in the concepts and facts that form the basis of our American democracy.

Fortunately, we know what to do, and Congress, the states and schools now have the opportunity to do it. Schools need to reinstate innovative approaches to teaching and engaging students in learning about their communities, their country, and the world. To aid in this, the federal government should make available to schools and school districts, a menu of validated, effective approaches to teaching the social studies. That way, teachers and schools can select the model that best meets the needs of their students and the communities in which they live.

How do we make these evidence-based options widely available to schools? Two pieces of legislation pending in Congress this year could go a long way to making this happen.

As part of ESEA Reauthorization, Congress and the President can and should provide competitive grants that support the development and dissemination of innovative, engaging approaches to teaching social studies that includes history, civics, geography, and economics. Republican Senator Mike Enzi said it best in 2011, when he drafted a legislative provision providing that "Grants shall be made to support developing, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating for voluntary school use innovative, research-based approaches to civic learning, which may include hands-on civic engagement activities, for low-income elementary school and secondary school students, that demonstrate innovation, scalability, accountability, and a focus on underserved populations."

The appropriations process in Congress funds programs in current law. Even without changes to No Child Left Behind, the appropriations committee has the ability to provide funds to the Department of Education, and the Department of Education has the ability to award, competitive grants to non-profits to improve the teaching of the social studies through the Fund for the Improvement of Education.

Ken Burns, American documentarian, emphasized the critical need for social studies education in Boston last fall, when he said, "(Civics) is actually how things work, how things stick together. No amount of STEM or no amount of STEAM will work unless you have given the operator’s manual. In a democracy that is called CIVICS and we need to bring it back!”

National Council for the Social Studies and the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools call on Congress to heed this cry. You have two opportunities to give teachers and schools the tools they need to improve teaching of social studies in our democracy. Don't let these opportunities pass another generation of students by.

Michelle Herczog President, National Council for the Social Studies

We need 15 minutes of your time this week to support funding for the social studies


We have an important opportunity to support funding for the social studies this year, since civic education champion Congressman Cole has now become subcommittee chairman. But he needs our help - he needs other Representatives to submit requests to fund the social studies.

The House Appropriations Committee has announced that deadlines for Congressional offices to submit their requests for the Labor, Health and Education subcommittee is March 26. Congressional offices have established varying internal deadlines to receive appropriations requests, but all Members have to submit their requests to the Committee by March 26.

If you haven't done this before, or you need a refresher, review the steps and instructions from the NCSS webinar below. It will take 15 minutes or less, but it's important! Every request submitted makes a difference. Feel free to pass this on to friends, family members, colleagues - anyone who cares about the teaching of the social studies in the schools can submit a request!

  1. Go to your Representative's website and find the appropriations request form, or call the main phone number (listed on the website) and ask where to find the office's appropriations request form.
  2. Fill out the form and submit it according to directions.
  3. That's it!

Here's the information you will need to complete the form:

  • Your name, organization, and contact information. (You don't can submit a request on behalf of NCSS, your state council, or just fill in "constituent.")
  • The name of the Appropriations Subcommittee (Labor- HHS)
  • The name of the federal agency (Department of Education)
  • The name of the program/account (Fund for the Improvement of Education)
    • If it asks you for the line number, leave it blank. (This is for Department of Defense accounts only)
  • The amount of money being requested ($30 million for civics and $30 million for history) Is this in the President's budget request (no) or are you requesting an increase in the program (yes)
  • Why is this important?

    Explain, in your own words, that social studies receives no federal funding; that federal funds are needed to give schools and school districts options of effective, evidence-based approaches to teaching social studies, particularly in underserved communities, that meet the needs of their students. Feel free to give examples from your own school or school district.

  • Language requests: report language to read: "Funding is provided for competitive grants to non-profit organizations with demonstrated effectiveness in the development and implementation ofcivic learning programs. Priority should be given to applicants that demonstrate innovation, scalability, and a focus on underserved populations, including rural schools and students."

Senate deadlines haven't been announced yet. We'll let you know when they are - but if you are on a roll, feel free to complete the forms for your two Senators and submit them while you're at it, too! The directions are the same as for the House forms, above.

January 2015 Legislative Webinar- ESEA Reauthorization

Catriona Macdonald, President of Linchpin Strategies and NCSS's Congressional expert, discusses the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Act) Reauthorization, as well as how to most effectively communicate about ESEA with Members of Congress directly and via the Appropriations process.

NCHE, C3 and the Importance of History in the Schools

Fritz Fischer, History Professor and Director History Education at University of Northern Colorado, and long-time board leader of National Council for History Education (NCHE), authored the lead article in the December issue of History Matters. I wanted to be sure that you saw this as it speaks eloquently about the strength of the C3 Framework, what it is and what it is not, and how important is to social studies that fifteen professional organizations, including NCHE, worked through considerable differences to arrive at consensus on the final version of College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards Update

After three years of work, The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards will be published this fall. The C3 Framework will be available at no cost on the NCSS website, and for purchase in print.

The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was conceptualized by individual state leaders in social studies education and supported by 15 professional organizations representing four core social studies content areas: civics, economics, geography, and history. The C3 Framework was written by experts in the academic disciplines and social studies education in collaboration with classroom teachers, state social studies education leaders, and professional organization representatives.

Work on the C3 Framework began in 2010 with the development of an initial conceptual guidance document written by individuals from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction state collaborative and representatives from the professional associations. The framework writers were selected in consultation with the participating professional associations. Feedback was solicited throughout the process from stakeholders, including invitational reviews with professional organizations, teachers, and critical friends.

The primary purpose of the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards is to provide guidance to states and districts on the concepts, skills and disciplinary tools necessary to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. In doing so, the C3 Framework offers guidance and support for rigorous student learning. That guidance and support takes form in an inquiry arc—a set of interlocking and mutually reinforcing ideas that feature the four Dimensions of informed inquiry in social studies: (1) developing questions and planning inquiries; (2) applying disciplinary concepts and tools; (3) evaluating sources and using evidence; and (4) communicating conclusions and taking informed action.

An Advocacy Victory in Ohio

Below is an update from the Ohio Council for the Social Studies.

"The Ohio Council for the Social Studies is celebrating an advocacy victory. Governor Kasich has signed the biennium budget and the Ohio Department of Education has confirmed that new Social Studies assessments will be administered to 4th and 6th grade students beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. These assessments will be electronic, grade-level specific and be aligned to Ohio’s New Learning Standards for the Social Studies.

We couldn't have done this without the help of Dr. Nancy Patterson and the Ohio Professors of Social Studies Education (OPSSE), who conducted a study in 2011 to measure the impact of the suspension/elimination of the grades 5 and 8 Ohio Achievement Tests (OAA’s) on social studies instruction in grades 3-5. The data from this study and an earlier OPSSE study in 2008 were invaluable to our advocacy efforts. We would also like to thank the OCSS leadership, including Dan Langen, Anne Baldwin, Bill Harris, Adam Motter, Corbin Moore, and Dr. Brad Maguth, for taking the time to meet and speak with state legislators, state board members, and ODE consultants on multiple occasions over the past 4 years. This is a great victory for Social Studies as a subject area, but more importantly it is a victory for our students and young citizens."

Become a Reviewer for NCSS/NCATE Social Studies Program Reports

NCSS seeks members to serve as reviewers of university social studies teacher education programs for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). How does it work? Teams of reviewers examine program reports and conduct reviews over the Internet. One member of each team, designated the “lead reviewer,” receives program reviews from the other team members and compiles the review report. An audit committee at NCSS checks the reviews and sends them to NCATE for distribution to the submitting institution.

When does this happen?
Reviews take place primarily in October/November and March/April. Usually each reviewer is assigned no more than three reviews per cycle, and can expect to spend 8–10 hours per review.

How do I prepare?
NCSS training takes place at the annual conference (this year in Seattle, Washington) and is a two-part process. Trainees are asked to attend the all-day institutional training clinic on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. (There is no charge for trainees to attend the clinic, but we do expect that you will commit to review for at least three years.) You also attend a “How to Review” session on Friday, November 16, at 9:00am until noon, followed by a workshop, 1:00–3:00pm, that includes experienced reviewers.

If you are interested in becoming an NCATE reviewer, contact Leah Engelhardt, Coordinator of NCATE Program Review, at



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