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Alan Singer no longer belongs to the National Council for the Social Studies. He explains why here.
History and social studies were marginalized by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which focus only on reading and math as make-or-break testing subjects. Now Common Core calls for “close reading,” analyzing text without context. It is impossible to understand history or social studies without context.
“My problem is that in an effort to survive, the NCSS has largely abandoned its commitment to these ideas, twisting itself into a pretzel to adapt to national Common Core standards and to satisfy influential conservative organizations that they are not radical, or even liberal. I suspect, but cannot document, that the organization’s membership has precipitously declined during the past two decades and it has increasingly depended financial support for its conferences and publications from deep-pocketed traditional and rightwing groups who advertise and have display booths.
“According to a NCSS position paper, “The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) is increasingly alarmed by the erosion of the importance of social studies in the United States. This erosion, in large part, is a consequence of the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Since the introduction of NCLB, there has been a steady reduction in the amount of time spent in the teaching of social studies, with the most profound decline noticed in the elementary grades.”
“In an effort to counter the Common Core push for detextualized skill-based instruction and assessment that has further marginalized social studies education, the NCSS is promoting what it calls “College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework,” a campaign I initially supported. It recently distributed Teaching the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework: Exploring Inquiry-based Instruction in Social Studies (NCSS Bulletin 114) edited by Kathy Swan and John Lee. However, through its choice of partners, its rigid adherence to Common Core lesson guidelines, and the sample material it is promoting, the NCSS has virtually abandoned not just meaningful social studies education, but education for democracy and citizenship as well.