The National Council for the Social Studies had its 60th House of Delegates meeting at the NCSS Annual Conference in Washington D.C. on December 1st and 2nd. This was my first time as a delegate, and was impressed by the formality of the setting and the passion with which members of the House presented and deliberated over resolutions.
Although this a time of great national uncertainty, I was encouraged by collective resolve of every teacher in the room to dig in and advocate for more and better Social Studies education in every state in the country. I was proud of our council, and came away with ideas about new ways to support you. I was also glad to meet council leaders from Oregon, who are going to work with us to plan and facilitate the Spring Conference in at the Skamania Lodge in 2018.
Before we voted on resolutions, though, the NCSS’ Congressional lobbyist, Catriona McDonald, gave us an update on what’s happening at the national level regarding Social Studies, especially regarding ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act, which has replaced No Child Left Behind).
States and districts must be ready to implement the ESSA by the beginning of school in 2017. State and local committees are making decisions about how to use resources right now, and McDonald urged us all to find out who is at the table for our individual districts, and to make sure they hear about the importance of Social Studies education.
Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Peska, the new Executive Director of the NCSS, spoke to the House of Delegates about some of his new ideas for the council. He mentioned partnering with state councils to provide more professional development at the local level, making the NCSS' website more interactive, and providing members with more tools for advocacy. The NCSS is solvent, but looking for ways to diversify its revenue streams. As Peska said, “There’s money out there for Social Studies. If we can make $100 million movies about World War Two, we can raise more money for Social Studies education.”
We were all exhorted to publicize the Each One Reach One program. If you recruit 1-10 new NCSS members, your name will go into a drawing (1 to 10 times, depending on how many people you recruited) for full conference registration plus a night at the hotel. Next year’s national conference will be in San Francisco, so start recruiting!
The following resolutions were approved by the House of Delegates.
RESOLUTION # 16-01-1
REPRESENTATION OF ASSOCIATED GROUPS
The National Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors will convene an ad hoc committee to determine and articulate a plan of action to increase direct participation by members of Associated Groups in NCSS governance.
RESOLUTION # 16-02-1
NCSS TO ENCOURAGE EDUCATION ON THE ISSUE OF DC STATEHOOD
The NCSS will solicit articles and lesson ideas for a teaching toolkit and an issue of Social Education about the issues surrounding DC Statehood and other movements to expand democratic participation and to encourage members, state, local and regional councils, and affiliated groups to educate students and members of their local communities about these issues.
RESOLUTION # 16-02-2
AFFIRMING SUPPORT FOR ALTERNATIVES TO THE USCIS NATURALIZATION TEST AS A MEASURE OF CIVIC KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND DISPOSITIONS
The National Council for the Social Studies will issue a position statement affirming support for alternatives to the USCIS Naturalization Test as a measure of civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions, such as the National Association of Educational Progress’ Civics Assessment, NCSS citizenship education materials, or similar research-based civic assessments that better align with best practice in civic instruction and assessment.
RESOLUTION # 16-02-4
RESOLUTION FOR THE EXPLICIT SUPPORT OF NCSS FOR THE INCLUSION OF LGBTQ ISSUES IN THE SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSROOM
The National Council for the Social Studies issue a statement in support of the inclusion of LGBTQ+ issues in the social studies curriculum.
RESOLUTION # 16-02-5
NCSS TO SUPPORT GREATER INCLUSION OF AND EMPHASIS ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND NATIONS IN SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATION
The National Council for the Social Studies will issue a position statement encouraging the creation of social studies curricula that explicitly presents and emphasizes accurate narratives of the lives of Indigenous Peoples, their sovereign Nations, and interactions, past, present, and future, with Euro-American settlers and the government of the United States of America; and will also issue a position statement in support of teachers working to provide more accurate learning opportunities for students that emphasize the sovereignty and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and Nations, past, present, and future.
(Washington State was recognized in the text of this resolution: “WHEREAS: Washington’s ‘Since Time Immemorial’ and Montana’s ‘Indian Education for All’ are examples of new state level social studies curricula that can serve as models for emphasizing greater inclusiveness and greater emphasis on Indigenous Peoples and Nations in PK-12 classrooms.”)
RESOLUTION # 16-03-1
NCSS TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT TEACHING ABOUT ISLAM AND IN TEACHING AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA
The NCSS will continue to encourage and support classroom instruction and professional development education on teaching about Islam and Islamophobia using open discussion and critical thinking skills in NCSS webinars, in NCSS publications and at NCSS Conferences.
RESOLUTION # 16-03-2
NO CITIZEN LEFT BEHIND
The NCSS will promote professional development opportunities that fortify teachers’ understandings of how to give voice to voiceless youth; and will promote pathways to change through student action by way of quality professional development, emphasizing sessions and service at the national conference that allow for attendees to hear student voices.
(The House agreed that the title of the resolution to “No Student Left Unheard,” and the board will follow up and edit it later.)
RESOLUTION # 16-03-3
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND RESOURCES TO SUPPORT TEACHING UNCOMFORTABLE/CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS AND CURRENT EVENTS
The NCSS will encourage and support the creation of an online toolkit, webinars, and collections of resources to assist local affiliates and Social Studies teachers to create safe and respectful classroom environments for current controversial issues to be taught and discussed.
RESOLUTION # 16-04-2
NCSS TO ENCOURAGE THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO INCLUDE SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AS PART OF ITS COMMITMENT TO HONOR VARIOUS RATIFIED TREATIES AND APPROVED DECLARATIONS REGARDING HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN LAW
The NCSS will encourage the United States Government, particularly the U.S. Department of State, through its Division of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the U.S. Department of Education, through its various programs that support and encourage civic, social, and global education, and under the overall direction and guidance of the President of the United States, to incorporate programs and practices that foster education in human rights at every level of education into its “steps to strengthen federal-level coordination” of implementation of human rights obligations. The NCSS, as a civil society organization with particular expertise in social studies education, offer its full cooperation to both governmental and civil society efforts to integrate human rights education into the social studies education of all students and encourage its members likewise to contribute their knowledge, skills, and experience in social studies education to these efforts.