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Executive Director's Message: "Collaboration for Advocacy"

Our NCSS mission is very clear: advocacy is at the heart of our work. Advocacy for social studies involves collaboration with many other organizations and individuals in education. Throughout the past year, NCSS has focused its advocacy efforts on turning around the marginalization of social studies. We use information from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to call for an increase in daily social studies instructional time in Grades K-5, and stronger supports for high-quality social studies curriculum, assessment, and professional learning.

We often distill our message down to three basic points:

  • Equitable time for social studies instruction in the elementary curriculum.
  • Sustained support of teacher professional development in the social studies.
  • Student voice in providing social studies as part of a well-rounded education.

While we often emphasize that social studies education is the foundation of learning, we are deeply aware that the foundation is only solid and lasting with other structures in place to support it in our education system. I wanted to share a few examples of NCSS advocacy through recent collaborations that spread the urgency of equity, inclusion, and the fundamental rights of an education built on literacy. These efforts would strengthen the capacity of all learners and educators, particularly as they develop instructional resources and skills to effectively engage in online and distance learning.

Increased Education Funding for Civic Learning

As a member of the CivXNow Coalition, NCSS joined hundreds of organizations and individuals led by iCivics in requesting from Congress $40 million in emergency funding for civic learning in the next COVID-19 relief act. See the final letter for the complete text.

Increased Education Funding for Professional Learning

As a member of the COVID-19 Education Coalition, NCSS joined over 60 other organizations led by ISTE in requesting from Congress an increase in education funding for professional development in the next COVID-19 relief act. See the final letter for the complete text. The new HEROES Act bill includes over $90 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, which can be used to support professional learning in response to the pandemic and our education system’s further transition to online learning.

A Constitutional Right to Literacy and Education

NCSS also joined with many education and other national organizations to support a student’s constitutional right to a basic education that includes literacy. A court case in Michigan, Gary B., et al. v. Whitmer, et al., was filed on behalf of Detroit Public Schools students and argued for a student’s right to literacy and a basic education. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the students. The decision could have broad implications for federal education policy and our understanding of what it means to have a right to an education.

Condemning Attacks on LGBTQ Books

As a member of the National Coalition Against Censorship, NCSS joined over 40 organizations in condemning attacks on LGBTQ books. The final statement notes that “the rights to freedom of expression and information of all community members, [are] protected under the First Amendment”.

What Can I Do?

NCSS collaborates with many organizations to advocate for social studies – and the conditions that support a solid foundation for social studies teaching and learning to happen every day; our collaboration is successful when all members can advocate for these issues within and across their local and state communities.

Step # 1: Visit our updated Social Studies Advocacy webpage for the latest NCSS resources and guidance to build your social studies advocacy message.

Our webpage is structured to provide many resources to help you build, refine, and present your advocacy message. Included are our Strategic Plan, current position statements, and information on our House of Delegates representative assembly. We next feature an “Advocacy Quick Start” of resources to help you build a plan for advocacy. We provide a toolkit of resources to help you schedule and conduct effective meetings with legislators to advocate for social studies education. We also share additional guidance on how laws and budgets are made. Finally, we provide several links to begin your direct advocacy work.

Step # 2: Know our advocacy partners.

In addition to the coalitions listed above, NCSS sustains active partnerships with other organizations. Visit their websites for more information on their advocacy efforts connected to all social studies disciplines:

Step # 3: Propose a social studies advocacy message for NCSS to debate.

Now is the time to prepare a resolution for debate at our next annual business meeting, the NCSS House of Delegates. Visit our Call for Resolutions for submission guidelines and information. All NCSS members are encouraged to review the guidelines and consider specific issues they would like our association to take a stand on. Submissions from all NCSS leadership groups are also strongly encouraged.

Step # 4: Join the NCSS 2020 Summer Leadership Institute.

Offered for the first time this July 2020 fully online, our 2020 Summer Leadership Institute is your strongest opportunity to network with members just as passionate as you are about collaboration and social studies advocacy. We strongly encourage leaders from our network of Affiliated Councils, Associated Groups, Operations Committees, and Special Interest Communities to join in teams. We are pleased to offer this program free to all members in 2020, but register now to claim your spot online! We need your collaboration to make our advocacy-focused mission come to life.

Be Your Own Best Advocate!

As we continue to transition social studies teaching and learning to online and distance learning during the current pandemic, we need to advocate for social studies education more than ever before. Our voice is clearly heard when we speak together. Stay safe and be well.