Social Studies in Today’s Classroom
Pat Concannon, NMCSS Executive Director
Social studies education in New Mexico schools is in need of attention. We have seen a decline of the teaching of social studies in the elementary schools since the No Child Left Behind legislation required states to develop plans to ensure that all students meet a proficiency level in reading and math by 2013. This has been a very discouraging issue for social studies educators in that many of us see that the teaching of social studies is the avenue that shows the learning of reading and mathematics by putting the comprehension and application into practice for students.
As a council the social studies has worked with the Public Education Department (PED) and the Legislature, but that work has been limited now without a Social Studies Consultant at the PED and the economic crisis that the state faces, social studies is once again a target for helping to balance the budget. As educators we should not disagree that all should be prepared to assist in this situation, however, the social studies is only part of the 11th grade state assessment so there is no accountability for social studies until high school and if that is now removed, even with a one year moratorium, the value that is communicated is that it is not important. When I consider the importance of the individual in our society and the need for that individual to understand their own importance it seems problematic to devalue the discipline that acknowledges that role.
It is important for all teachers to keep abreast of the changes in education and to speak up and be heard on issues that relate to the overall learning of the students of New Mexico. Please let your voice be heard with your legislators and within the social studies organization.