June 30, 2018 will end my term as President of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). The time I spent as President has been a roller coaster ride, with highs, lows, twists, and loops. As the ride ends, I am glad I went on it and would do it over again if I could.
NCSS is approaching its 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020. That year our country will also elect a president, participate in the summer Olympics in Japan, celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, and certainly witness other major events.
To prepare for NCSS' second hundred years, I have been explaining to members that it is time for some changes. We can no longer be an organization that only supports conferences and publications. Larry Paska, the NCSS Executive Director, and the NCSS staff are reaching out beyond our social studies education communities to share our message and build new partnerships. Larry understands, as we all do, that NCSS has a message, which needs to be heard by everyone.
As we approach our centennial, NCSS needs to consider what its future vision and mission should be. Is it time for a name change? NCSS has some international ties and those need to be expanded. This would require us to use the term International. The term social studies is mostly used in the United States. Other countries use the term social science. There are some states that now are replacing social studies with social science. International Council of the Social Science or something close to that needs to be our new name taking us into our bicentennial.
Last September, the NCSS Board of Directors held its first-ever meeting in conjunction with a state council. Cincinnati hosted the Ohio Council for the Social Studies and the NCSS board met during the conference. This allowed social science educators to meet NCSS board members and allowed NCSS board members to participate in a state council conference. I do hope this pattern continues of engaging NCSS board members with state council members during a state conference.
Almost two-thirds of NCSS membership are classroom teachers, while Associated Groups collectively account for approximately 10% of NCSS membership. This year the Board of Directors has reached out to our Associated Groups more fully than in the recent past. They were included in our March board meeting. The Associated Groups have been given 4 positions on the Nominations and Elections Committee. In the next few years, some board positions will be exclusively set-aside for members of the four groups.
Is this a positive move or not? That is something you as an NCSS member needs to consider. Representation of all NCSS members is important. A balanced representation is also important.
The future of NCSS depends on each member. You as an NCSS member are also an ambassador of our discipline: telling people who we are, explaining the importance of social science in the curriculum, and reminding everyone that we teach citizenship. NCSS is working on giving you the tools to share our message. We welcome any suggestions, ideas, and methods on ways to promote your association.
Some accomplishments during the 2017-2018 year have included:
- Hiring a Director of Marketing & Membership and a Youth Engagement Program Manager to expand our marketing and Rho Kappa programs, and re-structuring a department built on member services.
- Revising several other positions, including a Membership Program Manager, Member Engagement Program Manager, and a Meetings & Education Program Manager.
- Expanding membership options to include Online and Premium Memberships, and joint memberships with Affiliated Councils and the National Council for Geographic Education.
- Building a new Institutional Membership option for services offered to organizations, starting Summer 2018.
- Building new subscription services to promote individual benefits to the general public, starting Summer 2018.
- Launching a monthly webinar series for leadership groups to connect with each other and strengthen our internal professional learning network.
- Creating new partnerships with education associations and institutions to expand professional learning, networking, and membership options.
- Increasing the frequency of issues for The Social Studies Professional, communications with leadership groups, and social media engagement.
I ask that you welcome and support our new NCSS President beginning July 1, India Meissel. One of the best ways to support the new president and NCSS is to sign up to attend our annual National Conference in Chicago, November 28 - December 2. Registration is now open on the NCSS website.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president. The ride is slowing down and the end is in sight, but there are other rides to take for you and me within NCSS. May you as an NCSS member find your special ride, use your gifts and talents as together we build NCSS into an international organization. Together we seek ways to promote NCSS as the only organization representing social science educators. At the end of our ride, we can say we helped the world to know the importance of social science in the lives of students and adults.
Please email me with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSS President 2017-2018