The New York State Council for the Social Studies

The New York State Social Studies Supervisory Association

April 21, 2012
Regent James C. Dawson
New York State Board of Regents
Albany, New York  12234

Dear Regent Dawson:

It has come to our attention that the elimination of the mandatory Regents examination in Global History and Geography is on the agenda of the April 23-24 meeting of the Board of Regents.  This proposal is of grave concern to both the members of the New York State Council for the Social Studies and the New York State Social Studies Supervisory Association.  As Presidents of those organizations, we are writing to you today to implore you to share our concerns with the Board at your meeting this coming Monday and Tuesday.

When we had lunch with you a few weeks ago at our Annual Convention and spoke with you informally after your address at our conference, we shared our concerns with you regarding the marginalization of Social Studies education in New York State by the elimination of the Elementary Assessment in fifth grade and the elimination of the 8th grade assessment.  We also spoke regarding the importance of Citizenship education along with the 21st Century Skills and College and Career Readiness focus of the Common Core.  If memory serves correctly, you supported our idea of adding a third “C” to the College , Career Readiness – CITIZENSHIP.  

New York students are not only citizens of New York State and the United States, they are also citizens of the world.  If Global History and Geography is not tested and this test is not a requirement for graduation in New York State, it will not be taught.  Global History and Geography will end up the same way that Social Studies in the elementary classroom has since the elimination of the fifth grade assessment – something taught if the teacher has time, because the focus will be placed on those subjects that will be tested.

The argument that it is the Global History and Geography Regents Examination that is pulling the graduation rates in New York State down and preventing a large percentage of students from not graduating is not valid.  It is not because of the difficulty of the content or the fact that it is a two year course.  United States history in seventh and eighth grade is a two year course. Students lack the skills of reading and critical thinking.  It is not the content that is the problem.  The same students who have difficulties in English Language Arts usually struggle in Social Studies courses.  Doing away with these examinations is not the answer.  These students need remediation in the skills so that they can handle any type of content.  Schools need to focus on skill building – this is where the Common Core comes in.  With the elimination of the eighth grade assessment, students will have lost capacity for the Global History and Geography Regents Examination.  With further elimination of that examination, capacity will further be eroded for the United States History and Government examination.  In this critical time of globalization, the need for global awareness, and living in a global economy, do we really want to produce a generation of students who know little about the world around them?

Trying to raise graduation rates by lowering the requirements is counterproductive.  New York State has an educational standard that other states continually try to emulate.  To maintain this status in this critical time of globalization we need to emphasize global awareness and living in a global economy.  We achieve this goal by continuing to educate our students about global cultures and global governments.  To ensure that this expectation is achieved NYSED must continue to test Global History and Geography and continue to improve the testing process.
Thank you for helping us to maintain citizenship and global education in our schools.

Very truly yours,

Katherine A. DeForge
New York State Social
 Studies Supervisory Association
Past President
New York State Council for the Social Studies

Lori Megivern
New York State Council for the Social Studies
NCATE Board of Examiners

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