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Will Congress support social studies? Only if you take action now!

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This post is sponsored by the National Council of Social Studies.

This is an important moment for the social studies profession. We need you to contact your Representative by September 18, 2015, to urge him or her to sign a letter being circulated by Congressmen Dennis Ross (R-FL) and David Cicilline (D-RI) supporting quality instruction in American history, civics, geography, and economics.

Now that Congress has returned to Washington, negotiations to finalize the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) have kicked into high gear. The House and Senate each passed their versions of reauthorization earlier this summer, but the Senate’s version, with four provisions related directly to the social studies, that needs your Representative’s support.

In the Senate, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) successfully championed four provisions that authorize funding for the teaching of civics, history, geography, and economics education and professional development for educators.

The House, however, did not include any provisions for social studies, and some representatives have identified reducing the number of programs in the Senate bill as their top priority in conference negotiations. This directly jeopardizes the grants secured by our champions in the Senate and threatens to unravel the progress made to secure funding for high quality social studies education.

What We Need Now

Here are the four provisions we need your help defending:

  • Section 2302 provides competitive funding to local educational agencies (LEA) to promote the teaching of traditional American history as a separate academic subject.
  • Section 2303 provides competitive funding for establishing intensive academies for teachers and students to learn more about history and civics.
  • Section 2304 authorizes competitive grants to non-profit organizations to develop a range of innovative approaches designed to engage underserved students in history, civics, and geography.
  • Section 1005 allows parent engagement funds to be used to support financial literacy activities of parents and their students.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has recruited a bipartisan group of legislators to lead a sign-on letter requesting that the House conferees adopt these four provisions in the final bill. We need your help securing signatures from your representatives.

Visit the NCSS National Advocacy Center page. Click on “Take Action” and personalize the sample message provided.

These provisions in the Senate bill would create the funding for history, civics, geography, and economics classes that has been sorely missing in school districts across the country. Write to your Representative today and let him or her know what these provisions could mean for your students and your school.