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Answering Questions About the Teaching of Social Studies

Many of the current media narratives around the teaching of civics and history provide both opportunities and challenges for classrooms this school year in the midst of a midterm election season. What can districts do to combat misinformation and create a school climate to help students, staff and the community navigate the brewing “culture wars?”

 

  • Learn From History is a broad-based coalition of organizations of parents, students, teachers, school system leaders, community leaders, and other concerned Americans, facilitated by Stand for Children Leadership Center. Its goals are to educate parents and the public about what is actually taught in schools, explain the vital importance of students
    learning thorough, accurate, and fact-based history and that racism is wrong, and dramatize in an authentic, non-political,
    non-confrontational way through first-person accounts the harm and cost of efforts to restrict what is taught in classrooms across the country.
  • The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University Recently published What the Research Says: History and Civics Education.
  • Educating for American Democracy (EAD) is an unprecedented effort that convened a diverse and cross-ideological group of scholars and educators to create a Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy— guidance and an inquiry framework that states, local school districts, and educators can use to transform the teaching of history and civics to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century K–12 student body. There are supporting documents to explain the importance of social studies tailored to parents, administrators, community members, and other stakeholders.
  • The National Action Civics Collaborative Back to School Summer Toolkit has resources that can be used to communicate with parents and administrators.
  • Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement is a deep-dive research project undertaken in partnership with the American Association for State and Local History, the National Council on Public History, and the Organization of American Historians and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This report provides a framing strategy, which includes a set of specific recommendations for communicators. This report is accompanied by an earlier report summarizing the public’s existing understandings of history, as well as a supplement that summarizes the research methods used in the project and describes the evidence behind each of the recommendations presented.
  • Making History Matter Toolkit for Communicators is designed to facilitate more effective communication with the public about history: why it matters, how it can be
    interpreted, and why it is important to incorporate critical thinking and a multitude of diverse perspectives in the ways we understand it.
  • The National Council for the Social Studies released A Response to the Attacks on Social Studies Education in State Legislatures and Local Boards of Education.
  • The Illinois Civics Hub recently hosted a webinar, Sorting Facts from Fiction: What Districts Can Do to Combat Misinformation in the Current Culture Wars,  to explore proactive measures administrators can take to create a supportive school climate for all stakeholders. Participants heard from leading experts in school climate, civics, news literacy, and social-emotional learning. A recording of the webinar is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Webinar Archive along with blogs that share resources.