All social studies teachers need to be concerned. We assume that kids will just “get it” somehow, it being the whole idea of becoming good citizens. But NCLB has changed things. Lisa Zamosky at District Administration talks about the impact that the law has had on social studies instruction.

It’s year six of the No Child Left Behind law, and social studies has suffered greatly . . . Given that social studies education isn’t tied to high-stakes testing, instructional time for it has taken a significant hit, particularly at the elementary grades, since the implementation of NCLB.

And it’s not an isolated situation.

According to a 2007 report from the Center on Education Policy, which surveyed nearly 350 school districts across the nation, 44 percent of districts reported cutting time from one or more subjects or activities at the elementary level, including social studies.

Why should we be concerned?

The danger of failing to provide students with strong course work in government, economics and geography, according to Gayle Y. Thieman, president of the National Council for the Social Studies, is that they are ultimately unable to work together to solve public problems because they don’t have the knowledge to do it.

“Democracy is not a natural state,” Thieman continues. “It has to be taught; it just doesn’t happen. Just because you were born in a democracy doesn’t mean you’re going to die in a democracy.”

So . . . it’s not just social studies & history teachers who should be concerned, it’s everyone. One possible solution? Lobby to make social studies one of the tested content areas of NCLB. That brings with it some baggage as well but perhaps the baggage is worth it.

The National Council for the Social Studies listed some other suggestions in a recent PDF article – Advocating for Social Studies: Documenting the Decline and Doing Something About It.

The basic idea? Do the research, be positive, question authority and be a good role model.

Your good ideas?

“Without Our Vote.” justinbaeder’s Photostream September 9, 2006. April 25, 2008. http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinbaeder/238600893/.