Excerpts from Arne Duncan and NCSS Leaders on Social Studies

  • "I urge social studies teachers to work together to encourage states and local school boards to develop high social studies standards based on themes and skills and to create authentic growth measures of student learning" (Arne Duncan).

  • "You can always test to see if students understand the founding principles of the U.S. Constitution or where the Great Lakes are, but there is no bubble test to see whether or not they are becoming curious and informed participants in our democracy…. We need your help creating assessments that test the full range of what students know and can do." (Arne Duncan)

  • "As James Leach, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities recently put it, a society that fails to study history, refuses to learn from literature, and denies the lessons of philosophy 'imprisons [its] thoughts in the here and now.' As social studies teachers, you have the key to set the prisoners free." (Arne Duncan)

  • "Social studies is an essential discipline for literacy… Through our efforts, students can analyze historical text; they can interpret graphics and charts of data relating to stock market fluctuations or election results; they can read a photograph or historical painting; they can measure distances on maps….We are as critical as reading and mathematics because our charge is much greater." (Steve Goldberg)

  • "In adulthood, few of us will dissect a crayfish or solve a quadratic equation, or quote Macbeth, but every year, our country asks us to use our school skills and especially our social studies education to go into a voting booth and help to run our cities, our states, and our nation. Citizenship: it's the ultimate academic application." (Syd Golston)

  • "I have to wonder how Race to the Top will help social studies teachers meet the goal of creating tomorrow's active citizens when, as a consequence of NCLB/Race to the Top, social studies is being squeezed out of the curriculum…to rectify this narrowing, we need leadership at the highest levels of this administration." (Michael Yell) "As State and local policymakers develop assessments…I suggest they incorporate criteria of 'authentic assessment.'…The challenge will be to bring the innovative authentic social studies assessments that already exist to scale; to accomplish this will require a partnership of federal and state policymakers and local educators. It CAN BE DONE." (Gayle Thieman)

  • "As social studies teachers, we may 'have the key,' as Arne Duncan says, but our problem is that there is more than one lock and the key does not fit them all….Social studies is being 'locked out,' and one reason for this is that it is not included in the accountability measures or funding priorities of the Department of Education" (Peggy Altoff)