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Social Studies in Congress

Last week, I announced that a new Senate bill, S. 2024 - USA Civics Act of 2019, was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Cornyn (R-TX). This bill amends a portion of the Higher Education Act. If you have not already done so, I urge you to contact the education aides of your U.S. Senators, and ask them to encourage your Senators to become co-sponsors of this bill. You can click on the “Cosponsors” tab on the bill page to see the current list of co-sponsors. If your Senator is not listed, now is the time to contact their office.

Earlier this year, an unrelated new House bill, H.R. 849 – Civics Learning Act of 2019, was introduced by Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). This bill would, in part, amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to increase civics education programs. Currently, it lists 54 co-sponsors.

We are also tracking other proposed legislation that directly strengthens social studies instruction. In March 2019, NCSS signed onto a letter coordinated by The Jewish Federations of North America to support H.R. 943 - Never Again Education Act, which was introduced by Rep. Carolyn B. Mahoney (D-NY) in January 2019. Our NCSS support through the letter was very timely given the 2018-19 approval by our NCSS House of Delegates and Board of Directors of Resolution # 18-03-1: Advocating Improved Holocaust Education and the Provision of Necessary Resources. The introduced legislation might move our field significantly forward with needed professional training and instructional resources for human rights education. It advances our call for stronger Holocaust education. This proposed bill gained additional traction recently when the U.S. Senate introduced its own version, S. 2085 – Never Again Education Act, on July 10, 2019. Now that the Never Again Education Act has been introduced in both chambers, we encourage all members to identify whether your Congressional leaders have sponsored each bill. If they have not, now is the time to contact their offices, build relationships with their education aides, and encourage them to co-sponsor these important bills to move them forward. 

In addition to connecting with your Congressional offices on these and other important bills that strengthen social studies education, advocacy for social studies also is taking shape again at NCSS. Our annual Call for Resolutions for discussion at our 63rd House of Delegates Assembly is now open. We encourage all members and leadership groups to consider submitting one or more proposed resolutions by debate this fall. Your proposed resolution gives voice and advocacy to the important issues facing our members and our profession today. The House of Delegates will meet at our 99th NCSS Conference in Austin, TX on Friday, November 22, 2019.

Is there proposed legislation in your state for social studies education? We will continue to work with our partners to track the progress on these and other potential bills affecting social studies. As we keep you informed, I encourage you to share this information widely and start conversations about proposed bills like these which support high-quality social studies learning. Advocacy depends on collaboration and communication. NCSS is connected to organizations and alliances which support the goals of a well-rounded social education and encourage social studies to have an important place in Congress. Please add your voice to our network!