October 27, 2017MaryEllen Elia, New York State Commissioner of EducationBetty A. Rosa, Chancellor of New York State Board of RegentsMembers of the Board of RegentsCitizens of the State of New York
Social Studies education is in crisis in the State of New York. The last decade has seen the end of Social Studies state assessments for the elementary grades (i.e, 5th Grade Exam) and middle years (i.e., 8th Grade Exam) and an overemphasis on English Language Arts and Mathematics through the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards. This has been a “perfect storm” for the reduction of effective Social Studies instruction. At the high school level, the “Pathways” initiative has reduced the required number of Social Studies Regents Examinations for graduation. Further, the new curricula and accompanying assessment approach has removed 9th Grade content from the Global History and Geography Regents. Social Studies educators across the state fear a continued marginalization of Social Studies through the unintended consequences of ongoing educational reform efforts in New York. Our students need to be effective citizens in our society, fully aware of their American heritage, as well as members of the interdependent global world, connected by technology, in which we all live. This generation is at risk due to the minimization of Social Studies instruction and assessment.
The Long Island Council for the Social Studies (LICSS) opposes the over-testing of our students and recognizes the negative effects, but as stated by Chancellor Betty Rosa, “We’ve all heard that ‘if it isn’t tested, it isn’t taught.’ And, in fact, instruction in Social Studies has too often been given short shrift, especially at the elementary level.” Assessments are critical for the accountability of students and educators in Social Studies. The LICSS advocates for rigorous Social Studies Standards and appropriate, meaningful Social Studies assessments that reflect the necessary content knowledge and skill-sets of an informed, thoughtful citizenry.
We believe:- Recent research has indicated deficiencies in students’ understanding of American Heritage and Civics, World History and Geography, and the accurate analysis and interpretation of information- Knowledge of history, culture, geography, civics, and economics are essential for an informed citizen of the United States and the global community - Social Studies education has interdisciplinary applications. This work prepares students for college, career, civic participation, and their future. The skills are both discipline-specific, such as historical contextualization and chronological reasoning, as well as cross-disciplinary, such as analysis of evidence, close reading, and argumentative writing - Civic education teaches the next generation how to analyze different perspectives, identify bias, and propose meaningful solutions for issues- The historic New York State Regents Examinations (commencing in 1879) represent a commitment to rigor and accountability
As educators and concerned citizens, we urge policymakers in New York State to desist from the erosion of Social Studies education and advocate the following:- Continued support for the full implementation of Social Studies courses of study, grades K-12, articulated in the New York State Social Studies Framework- The requirement of class time explicitly committed to Social Studies content and skills (as defined by the Framework) in the elementary school day- Meaningful and appropriate Social Studies assessments for the purpose of accountability at the elementary and middle grades- The development and administration of Social Studies Regents Examinations that are end-of-course final exams and graduation requirements
In this time of both global progress and challenges, Social Studies is more important and relevant than ever. It is imperative that Social Studies resume its historic place as a subject area which is valued and cherished as the great equalizer in developing reasoned, informed, and respectful civil discourse.
Respectfully,The Long Island Council for the Social Studies on behalf of New York State educators, parents, and students