REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Teaching social studies—or not?


Among the numerous criticisms of NCLB is its stress on literacy and math skills, to the exclusion of subjects such as social studies, arts or music. TC Daily Planet has heard from a few local elementary school teachers who say that their schools no longer allot time in the day to teach social studies. They say that principals focus more on reading and math, the areas that are more rigorously tested.

Now that Congress finally got the health care bill out of the way, parents and educators are chomping at the bit for something to be done about No Child Left Behind, a highly unpopular program that President Barack Obama has vowed to reform.

Beth Hawkins from MinnPost discusses Obama’s proposed new policies in relation to Minnesota’s standards. She writes that the new policy would focus on critical thinking skills, rather than memorizing facts. In a related effort, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are working on Common Core State Standards, to replace differing state standards. Texas, which recently ordered Thomas Jefferson out of its history books, is not participating in the Common Core Standards effort, with Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott saying that any move toward common standards is a move toward a federal takeover of schools.

For now, though, NCLB and its testing requirements are still law, and that means more “teaching to the test” and less time for other lessons, including social studies.

Help Us Report this Story

We are very interested in hearing from teachers. How has teaching social studies changed in the last ten years? What changes, if any, do you hope take place to make sure students learn history, geography, civics, etc? For parents – what do you like about your children’s social studies learning, and what concerns do you have?

Please comment below or email