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Campaign to add citizenship to Common Core

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2013 11:42 AM

Common Core State Standards were developed with the intent to provide the highest quality instruction and most advanced curricula for American students. Because the CCSS are relatively new, educators can request that certain subjects be included in the curricula as the Standards continue to evolve.

The National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) is appealing to the administrators of the Standards, arguing that their C3 social studies program will benefit students as they pursue a college degree. They believe that social studies are just as important as any other science or math class.

C3, which stands for College, Career and Civic Life, was created to set higher standards not only for the state, but for educators, administrators, schools and school districts as well.

Objectives of C3
According the NCSS, C3's objectives are to "a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies."

The council wants social studies included in the CCSS because they feel that the subject is being marginalized more and more each year. Standardized exams that assess reading and math skills put pressure on teachers and students to perform well in those subjects. This means that less time and resources are spent on subjects that are not tested.

NCSS argues that the C3 program will develop a habit of inquiry in students and encourage participation in civic life. They believe these skills are necessary to a successful career in college and the modern world.

Issues NCSS faces
Various logistical issues arise when the inclusion of social studies in the CCSS is discussed.  Leaders in the NCSS are evaluating the benefits of constant pre-testing, testing and re-testing while disagreeing over the means by which a student's knowledge is assessed. .

Some instructors believe that controversial topics like capitalist industrialization or the New Jim Crow might be too aggressive to teach, while other educators might see that information as integral to knowledgeably participating in civic life.

Whether social studies is included in the CCSS remains to be seen, but what is certain is the need for collaboration among teachers, administrators and parents. A discussion should take place so that an exploration of possibilities that best fit the needs of all students can begin.