Advocating for Social Studies Education in Iowa
Iowa Social Studies Education Day February 1, 2018
Governor Kim Reynolds will be issuing a proclamation on February 1, 2018, recognizing the importance of social studies education in Iowa. Officially, the proclamation will make it Iowa Social Studies Education Day. Members of the ICSS and other social studies advocates in Iowa will take part in an official signing ceremony on that day at 10:00 A.M. in the Governor’s Office. The Iowa Council for the Social Studies would like to use this opportunity to advocate on behalf of social studies issues and we need your help. We are working to get the support needed to ensure social studies content and skills are taught to all Iowa students. Specifically, we are advocating that all Iowa Area Education Agencies have at least one full time social studies consultant with a background in the social studies. As schools work on creating their local social studies scope and sequence plans, it is highly vital that dedicated and knowledgeable support be available in all areas of the state. Currently, most AEAs only have a part-time contact for the social studies. In many cases this person has no background in the social studies, or is not provided the time within their duties to assist with social studies matters. We believe this can be addressed. There are many ways you can help. The best way is to meet and/or contact your legislator about the need for a social studies consultant in every AEA. Contact information for all legislators can be found here.
The Iowa Council for the Social Studies officially endorses the Iowa History Advisory Council Report: Recommendations to Create a Systemic Approach to Improving the Teaching and Learning of Iowa History in Iowa’s K-12 Schoolsil report to Improve Teaching and Learning of Iowa History in Iowa's K-12 Schools. Read the full report here.
HF 220: Civics Examination:
A proposal has been offered that require all students pass a civics exam as a condition for graduation. According to the current bill, a sixty-percent threshold would be set, using the questions from the most recent civics exam currently given by the United States citizenship and immigration services. Alternative assessment for special education and limited language students are permitted under guidance by the Department of Education. The exam would be given at least once a year beginning in seventh grade. Each student will be provided the opportunity to take the exam at least once per year beginning in seventh grade. The student must only pass it once, and no longer take the exam once it has been passed. So, passing the exam in seventh grade means the student has met the requirement for graduation. Please see House File 220 for access to the current bill and a list of the bill sponsors. Please pass along your thoughts and opinions on this bill to your legislators.
The Iowa Legislature, the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Area Education Agencies, and local Iowa school districts all must work together to ensure that a high quality social studies education is provided to all students. With the development of new state standards for the social studies and the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the ICSS, who represents social studies educators from throughout the state, call on policymakers and stakeholders to ensure that social studies education is included in a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and career readiness as engaged citizens.
The social studies should be given the same priority as other core content areas.
Justification Social studies education creates informed and engaged citizens. Democracy requires active citizens; social studies education is the guardian of democracy. Social studies education is critical for a competent and responsible citizenry. Only twenty-three percent of students scored at or above proficient on the most recent NAEP (The Nation’s Report Card) exam. [NAEP, The Nation's Report Card]
Additional reasons for concern were also found in an Annenberg Public Policy Center surveys elicited from national samples of the U.S. population in the past decade. Findings included that
The Iowa Department of Education study entitled, Social Studies: A Call to Action, found that Iowa elementary teachers are only spending about one hundred minutes per week on social studies education, or about five percent of the instructional week. Whereas they are required to spend ninety minutes per day on literacy. [Social Studies: A Call to Action, Iowa Department of Education]
According to the guidance regarding SSAE grants and civic instruction: “An LEA may use funds to promote the development, implementation, and strengthening of instructional programs in civics. Civics is generally understood to mean the content of what citizens should know about politics and government, including the foundations of the American political system. Schools can provide civics instruction through both formal and informal education beginning in the early years of the education process.” (ESEA section 4104(b)(3)(A)(i)(V))
On April 13, 2016, the US Department of Education in a Dear Colleague Letter stated that the use of ESSA funds can include “humanities education.” Humanities education would include the social studies: history, civics, government, economics and geography. This provides opportunity and incentive for the Iowa Legislature to redistribute funding to social studies education. ESSA requires that students receive a well-balanced education.
The Iowa Department of Education study entitled Social Studies: A Call to Action shows that fifty-nine percent of Iowa social studies teachers reported no access to professional learning in the social studies in the last two years.
For more information contact
Iowa Council for the Social Studies Government Liaison and Advocacy Director
Contact Your Federal Legislators
Tweet Senator Grassley: @chuckgrassley
Tweet Senator Ernst: @SenJoniErnst
Leave Comments: http://www.ernst.senate.gov/content/contact-joni
House of Representatives
District 1: Rod Blum