President’s Message – May 2012

It is a privilege to take on the role of President for the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, and a challenge to fill the shoes of Bob Kostka. My first official task is to thank Bob, and his team of Gorman Lee and Algot Runeman, for all their hard work in putting our new website together. There were many others who worked behind the scenes and I do not wish to omit anyone from our sincere gratitude, but Bob, Gorman, and Algot went above and beyond. Bravo Gentlemen!

Bob dared to hang the success of his presidency on the creation of this website. The focus issue for my term as president will be simply this: with all the challenges we face as a Social Studies community, we must remain positive…constructive…and pro-active. There is a great deal to address in trying to maintain the integrity of Social Studies education, but we can not lose sight of what brought us into this career in the first place. A love for the Social Studies and a desire to pass that zeal on to generations of students. So let’s begin there by never losing sight of that determined energy. I was struck by the words of Donald Perreault, this year’s NEHTA Kidger Award winner, when he stated that “history happened in the everyday.” We need to constantly remind our students of that of course, but also remind ourselves of it as well. It is our everyday efforts in the classroom, in the professional development of our craft, and in voicing our role before the local school committees and state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that we must continue to have impact.

The determination of staying positive and constructive is not a stance of innocence. Make no mistake about the very serious fact – we have a daunting task ahead of us. In the Panel Discussion at NERC 43, one panelist after another related tales of distress, with states and regions increasingly marginalizing social studies education, and yet each of them found moments of great success and potential in the everyday efforts that classroom teachers were putting forth for students everywhere. However if we do not remain positive and determined, who will? We have so much to be proud of, why not be positive about what we do and what we offer. So let us pledge to be constructive and pro-active this year and beyond, so that Social Studies education grows in Massachusetts. Let’s continually remind the DESE that we are considered the leader among all the states in education and we are a significant part of the reason for that!

If we maintain this philosophical approach, then completing the other initiatives becomes far easier. Some points of emphasis for this coming year:

  • Increased membership in MCSS! We are the voice throughout the state for Social Studies Education. Help us speak for you. Join us (you can do so online at the MCSS website) and get your colleagues to do the same, no matter the grade level or college or school system.

  • The new and user friendly MCSS website – it’s up and running, so please 1. Make use of it and 2. Contribute to it. Using this website places answers to your questions at your fingertips, as well as access to many other useful and beneficial sites.
  • Create as many chapters as possible of the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society which NCSS is establishing this year. All other disciplines have such honor societies and the social studies do not. There will be information on this on the MCSS website in the near future.

  • Communicate regularly with the DESE and your local legislators about Social Studies education. It is surprising how much they are not aware of, and they do appreciate hearing from you. Let them know what you are doing in the classrooms statewide, and let them know what they can and need to do for us to insure continued delivery of the best product around.

All this and NERC 44 (April 8,9,10, 2013) are on our horizon. This all makes for a busy year but one in which we can realize great progress in Social Studies education. Please join us in that venture.


Norm Shacochis

President, MCSS