Full (Complete) Statement from Gorman Lee, Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, to MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

May 22, 2018


Good morning. My name is Gorman Lee of Boston, Massachusetts. I started my teaching career in Massachusetts in 1993. I taught in Medford and Braintree, and currently serve as the K-12 Director of Social Studies for the Braintree Public Schools. I am also the Director of Professional Development Programming and past president for the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies. I am also very honored to have served on the History and Social Science curriculum framework review panel under the outstanding leadership of Dave Buchanan and Sue Wheltle for the past two years.

I would like to, first, take this time to thank you and the staff of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to open this opportunity for us to review, and make recommendations to revise, the History and Social Science curriculum framework, and to include the social studies to a prominent place in our children’s education.

As you know, the revised draft of the framework presented before you is a response to recent calls to increase the attention and emphasis on civic literacy, civic engagement, and civic learning in our K-12 classrooms (see the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Civic Learning Engagement Strategic Plan, March 2017). The revised framework addresses some significant needs in our schools across the Commonwealth:

  •  The framework presents ten guiding principles emphasizing the importance and necessity for a viable and rigorous social studies education to develop and sustain a well-informed and engaged citizenry in a democratic republic.
  • The framework includes K-12 Standards for History and Social Science practice, which offers instructional practices and resources for classroom teachers to deliver content more meaningfully and effectively, while increasing learning opportunities for students to practice skills in critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving.
  • There is a dedicated course in American civics, anchored in grade 8, where students will not only learn how our government works, specifically the structure of the various levels and an understanding of other types of governments around the world, but also content knowledge of our Constitution and their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
  • The framework introduces standards that will prepare students to effectively evaluate sources and to analyze evidence in drawing conclusions.
  • The framework also introduces students to learn the importance of news/media literacy and its impact to sustaining a strong and healthy democracy.
  • This framework creates more opportunities for students to make direct or personal connections with topics in history, geography, economics, and civics by learning through inquiry and discovering why such topics matter to them and to the present-day world.
  • This framework is more inclusive and gives ALL students the opportunity to “see themselves” in history and recognize and to realize the contributions of many peoples to create and sustain our nation.
  • The framework introduces our students a more accurate understanding of the world in which they live and knowledge of the interconnectedness of all regions, beyond Europe and the United States, from historical, geographic, and economic perspectives.

The main intent of the framework is to provide educators and students, and inform parents on, the content topics, essential understandings, historical themes and concepts, and skills that are relevant, meaningful, and necessary to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. We are preparing our students to hold the office of citizen.

On behalf of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, I ask the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to approve and adopt the revised draft of the History and Social Science Curriculum Framework next month.

Thank you.


Gorman Lee, Ed.D., Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies

K-12 Director of Social Studies, Braintree Public Schools

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