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Editorial: Social studies

Posted: May 12, 2015 3:33 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2015 1:00 a.m.

There is little information taught in schools nowadays that is more important than social studies. That term is an old one, but it is still an apt description of the subject matter covered -- civics, history, geography. Those are basic subjects which make for an informed citizenry and electorate, and being well versed in social studies is, to many, a necessary component of a healthy country. Yet we’re doing an awful job of educating students in these basic areas. One news report recently gave the sad news: nationally, the share of students scoring at or above proficiency in history is 18 percent; in civics, 23 percent; in geography, 27 percent.

That begs a simple question: if students in New Jersey don’t know where South Carolina is, or they don’t understand the Boston Tea Party, or they don’t comprehend the separation of powers among the branches of government, then they’re going to have a hard time helping solve the problems facing our country.

There’s been significant emphasis under No Child Left Behind on math and reading, but social studies hasn’t received much attention. And in the past few years, some progress is being made on those former areas, but not the latter. That doesn’t bode well for an informed citizenry in the future. 

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