May 19, 2021
The Tennessee Council for the Social Studies (TCSS) is a non-profit, professional association devoted to providing information, resources, and support for all those involved in social studies education. This includes K-12 teachers, supervisors of instruction, and college professors in the various disciplines interested in and involved in social studies.
The following position statement was approved by the TCSS Board representing the statewide organization as a whole:
TCSS takes this position to express our concern with and opposition to the amendment to HB0580/SB0623.
TCSS echoes the sentiments written by The Tennessee Alliance for Equity and Education in its open letter as well as those written by the National Council for the Social Studies, of which TCSS is an affiliate.
This bill delegitimizes the teaching profession by calling into question teachers’ academic qualifications and pedagogical decision making. The bill perpetuates a misunderstanding of what practices occur in Tennessee public schools and of what constitutes history and social studies education by conveying the notion that teachers present only static facts about the past. What we know about the past is only known to us through the interpretation of evidence, which is an extension of imperfect individuals who have limited perspectives, biases, and prejudices. “History, then, is not ‘what happened’ but is a study of the past, filled with inferences, decisions about significance, interpretations, inclusions and omissions, generally accepted facts, and even speculations” (Nokes, 2013, p. 55). By censuring the comprehensive history/social science education that is required of students, this bill will hinder social studies educators’ work to produce students who can master historical thinking skills and evaluate multiple perspectives in order to be productive, responsible, and competent citizens in our diverse and democratic society.
Nokes, J. D. (2013) Building students’ historical literacies: Learning to read and reason with
historical texts and evidence. New York: Routledge.