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Giving the Gift of Social Studies

I think we all agree that one of the highest priorities of a well-rounded education is to ensure that our students have the tools they need for active civic engagement. Regardless of our political beliefs, we collectively work hard so that our students are prepared for college, career, and civic life. That work is so important to our organization that it headlines the main page of our web site.

NCSS recently launched a year-end giving appeal. My letter for this appeal highlighted some of our organization’s many 2017 accomplishments. I wanted to expand on some thoughts about why your individual contribution to NCSS matters more than ever before – and where it will go to support our continued important work in social studies education.

First, thank you for your hard work and dedication to make so many achievements possible for the social studies this year. With your support in 2017, NCSS has accomplished many things:     

  • We introduced two new membership categories—Online and Premium—to expand our range of options for getting the most out of NCSS membership

  • We organized a highly successful 97th Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA, hosting over 3,400 attendees with over 900 sessions, clinics, tours, and professional meetings.

  • We increased the number of Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society chapters to over 575, and introduced an e-newsletter for chapter advisors. 

  • We co-sponsored an Inquiry Design Model summer institute with C3 Teachers for over 300 educators in Raleigh, NC.

  • We announced Summer 2018 study tours to China and Peru for NCSS members.

  • We established the NCSS Leadership Forums, a monthly webinar series for all volunteer leaders and groups.

  • We provided complimentary access to two journals—The Social Studies and Theory & Research in Social Education—for all NCSS members through February 28, 2018. 

We are also growing our community. Earlier this year, we welcomed a new special interest community focused on Religious Studies, and introduced a Religious Studies Companion Document to the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework. Recently, we welcomed West Virginia as a returning member to our family of state affiliated councils.

Now, we seek your partnership to accomplish even more in 2018. Since our founding in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies has supported educators in teaching students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. In 2018, let’s set the stage together for: 

  • 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.

These outcomes underscore the critical investments needed for social studies as the foundation for a well-rounded education.

We seek to invest in more professional learning and instructional resources for elementary-level social studies instruction. Such investments have been sorely needed in recent years as social studies instructional time and assessments have been greatly reduced or outright eliminated due to competing priorities in the school day. By investing in professional learning and instructional resources for elementary-level educators, we believe our students will be on a strong path to civic competence by the time they graduate from high school. We must invest in elementary-level learning if we want to realize strong student achievement by high school graduation.

We seek to invest in our teachers to ensure they can access high-quality professional development to innovate in their craft. We continue to hear how the lack of such investment limits their opportunities to grow in their practice and support student achievement. Professional development is an essential investment for our teachers and students, and yet its costs can be challenging for budgets. Nevertheless, we must invest in professional development for social studies educators to achieve results for all students by high school graduation.

We seek to invest in our students and their social studies experiences to ensure they graduate with a well-rounded education. NCSS is proud to support the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society, with over 575 high school chapters worldwide (and growing). This program recognizes strong student achievement in social studies and provides students with solid service and leadership opportunities to demonstrate their social studies skills. NCSS has also partnered with many organizations directly engaging student in civic life and taking informed action through the social studies. Through the Action Civics Initiative led by Civic Nation, and through our support of the 22x20 campaign with The LAMP, these partnerships (and more to come!) enrich programs like Rho Kappa and, most importantly, are a needed investment in our students. We must invest in programs that give students a voice and opportunities to engage in and practice their social studies learning, in order for them to succeed by high school graduation.

Over the past year, I have written and presented about our NCSS Strategic Plan. I have invited you to think about how our strategic priorities for social studies can help you in your advocacy and work in your school, community, or organization. As we conclude 2017 and look toward a year of growth in 2018, I welcome you to help all social studies educators communicate, collaborate, innovate, be inclusive, and influence today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. Please continue to support the future of social studies education with a financial gift to NCSS as part of your end-of-year giving. 

If you make a 100% tax-deductible donation to NCSS by December 31, 2017, your year-end contribution will enable us to make critical investments that expand our leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. We can do this together!