November 2018

November 2018 – a few significant pieces of information:

☆ The academic year is 1/4 complete, and for MCSS it has been busy. And for everyone, the same can be said I am sure. The critically important mid-term elections are upon us, and in every Social Studies class, no matter the grade, some mention of the elections should be a topic of discussion for it is a civic duty that we all can participate in and one that students are always intrigued about. No matter one’s political stance, the civil act of voting is one we must always advocate and encourage. In addition to the intrigue of the national and state elective positions, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we have 3 very important ballot questions that our students are sure to be aware of and intrigued by. These make for powerful classroom discussion and/or debate. Let’s encourage our students to be participants in the academic pursuit of being knowledgeable on the issues, for in doing so, we are helping to build participatory citizens for the years ahead.
☆ The MCSS One Day Conference just completed on October 29 was a huge success! Yes, our attendance numbers were way up, but the success was genuinely in the content of the conference itself. Our theme “E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many One” was tremendously illustrated by the variety of presentations throughout the day (there were 24 clinics and workshops offered throughout the day, incorporating the full spectrum of Social Studies/Sciences topics and appealing to elementary, middle and high school levels) and the offerings of our vendors in their products and services. In addition to the breakout clinics and workshops, the day’s highlights included:

  • A great Keynote Address by Dr. Christopher Martell – “Not Everyone Gets a Mirror: Centering the Social Studies on Equity”
  • Presentation of the MCSS Inspiration Award to Razia Jan and her Ray of Hope Foundation for the beautiful work they have done in creating schools for girls in her home country of Afghanistan and a wide array of other humanitarian and community based programs. Currently based in Los Angeles, the Ray of Hope Foundation was begun by Razia while living in Duxbury, MA.
  • A progress report on the newly revised Massachusetts Frameworks for History and Social Sciences by Michelle Ryan from DESE. Michelle gave us a thorough update on the structure and intent of the about-to-be-released Frameworks and the efforts that were being set up for the development of an assessment plan via DESE.
☆ This 3rd item (DESE – Frameworks) is so significant for our advocacy for History and Social Science education in Massachusetts. Michelle’s comments and response to questions were positive and reassuring that the Framework development was on a very constructive path and that, to us, it seems that the state is realizing the genuine need for civics education to take place at every grade level in every year. MCSS has long been advocates for a reinforcement of Social Studies instruction in our public, charter, and private schools, and we are optimistic that steps are being taken to make this a greater reality than it has been for a decade and a half. We endorse the idea of assessment/accountability in some form – perhaps in several alternative formats, as this often is the only way that we can be sure this instruction is taking place in our schools, especially K-8. We are appreciative for DESE’s revival of the H & SS Frameworks, the efforts of all who are on the development committee (you can find the complete committee roster on the DESE website), and for all the work that YOU ALL do in our classrooms.
☆ A final word of great appreciation to Gorman Lee, MCSS Program Director, Kathy Babini, MCSS Executive Director, and Eileen Shacochis, MCSS Registrar and Treasurer, for all the efforts, energy, and fortitude in putting together the One Day Conference and their immediate start to working on NERC #49, which will be taking place March 18 & 19, 2019 at Framingham State University. Put it on your calendar now!!
☆ Lastly, our best wishes for warm and healthy holidays – no matter which holidays are celebrated and where you may be spending them – may your hearth be warm, your company joyous, and all travels be safe.

See you at NERC #49,

Norm Shacochis
Acting President, 2018-19