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NCSS Response to the Tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia

Issued by National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and its following Associated Groups:

  • College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA)
  • International Assembly (IA)
  • National Social Studies Supervisors Association (NSSSA)
  • Social Science Educational Consortium (SSEC)

approved August 17, 2017

As members of the National Council for the Social Studies, we express deep concern for the events taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, and their aftermath during the past week. Acknowledging the long term and divisive history of racial hatred and religious intolerance in the United States, we deplore acts of reckless violence and declarations of white supremacy, which tear at the foundation of our common civic unity and faith in democratic ideals.

As social studies professionals, we strive to prepare students for civic competence and active participation in our society. Such active participation only happens with a sustained commitment to providing rigorous social studies instruction everyday as part of a well-rounded education.

Soon, students will return to class, whether in university or K-12 classrooms. These events continue to stress the need for sustained public discourse and instruction about the world around us. We cannot remain silent about such critical themes as culture or global connections and expect our public to have appropriate civic engagement.

How should social studies educators address these issues in the classroom? While such a conversation can be very difficult for some students and in some contexts, social studies teachers carry the responsibility for fostering democratic values and engaged citizenship in the classroom. We are tasked with brokering difficult conversations about issues of equity and social justice that engender open-mindedness and thoughtful responses to harmful language and actions. We encourage all social studies teachers and teacher educators to equip our children and students with the tools to eradicate hate, fear, and violence in our democratic society.

Teaching the Charlottesville Tragedy

NCSS invites its members and the general public to share resources and sustain conversations about civic competence. Here are some resources to prepare to teach about Charlottesville and similar situations should they arise in the future.

"The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help"
Washington Post, August 13, 2017

"Teaching about race, racism and police violence: Resources for educators and parents"
Washington Post, July 11, 2017

"What should teachers say about the hate speech seen in Charlottesville?"
USA Today, August 14, 2017

Talking to Students About Charlottesville Violence and Racism"
NEAToday, August 14, 2017

Resources For Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville"
National Public Radio, August, 14, 2017

Timeline by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Confederate monuments

The Illusion of Progress: Charlottesville's Roots in White Supremacy"
Citizen Justice Initiative, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, University of Virginia

Other Resources

The History Classroom in an Era of Crisis: A Change of Course Is Needed
American Historical Association

Uncomfortable Conversations: Talking About Race In The Classroom
National Public Radio

What Is the Alt-Right?
Teaching Tolerance

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy
​Southern Poverty Law Center

Resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center on fighting hate

Note: These resources provided above were recommended by NCSS members for informational purposes only. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement or approval by NCSS.