Letter from Comm. of Education Mitchell Chester troubling and yet…

I recently submitted a letter to Commissioner Chester and the DESE Board voicing our concern for the state of SS in Massachusetts Schools. He responded stating that he, Education Secretary Reveille, and the Board all support SS and he cited several examples. [both letters are posted on the MCSS website] I can not agree with his claim that supporting a one day Student Govt. Day at the State House constitutes supporting SS education in the schools, but at least his statements regarding the recognition of what we do in the classrooms and the support of SS-based curriculum units in the state’s Race to the Top Model Curriculum program and our role within the literacy standards of the Common Core indicates some recognition of the importance SS plays in the creation and continuation of excellent schools for students. The most troubling statement in his letter is this: “Massachusetts has a long history of ‘local control’ and it is neither in our purview nor appropriate for the Department to mandate” hours of instruction for individual subjects. In other words, we must fight this battle on the local level, as the state will not step in to say to schools “If you are reducing your SS instruction, you are cheating students out of the quality education we seek to offer in every school in Massachusetts.”

So please take this issue to your local administration/school committee with passion and persistence. If your system is reducing or considering any reduction in SS instruction, whether by reducing time or positions, please fight the good fight, and call upon the MCSS to assist in that fight. Our greatest argument is this: it is up to us at the local level to make SS instruction so positive and of such high quality that no school system could consider reducing SS instruction in their schools. Innovative programs, classes, and courses…enhancing student research and writing skills…and simply lighting a fire in students for civic and social issues. That’s what we do and want to continue to do.

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