Giving Compass' Take:

· Because social studies isn't a priority in schools, teachers lack the proper training to teach it. The Hechinger Report explains why social studies is important for young students in order to understand the world and become engaged citizens.

· How does social studies open the door for civil discourse on sensitive topics at a young age? How do these classes help raise self-awareness?

· Read more about the importance of social studies.

One of the longtime goals of public education is to produce young people capable of participating in the democratic process. Experts say that requires regular and high-quality social studies lessons, starting in kindergarten, to teach kids to be critical thinkers and communicators who know how to take meaningful action.

Yet, as teachers scramble to meet math and reading standards, social studies lessons have been pushed far back on the list of academic priorities, especially in the early grades.

“Without social studies, we lose the civic mission of public schools,” said Stephanie Serriere, a former early-grade teacher who is now an associate professor of social studies education at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. “Ultimately, we can’t prepare children for living in a rich, diverse democracy if we don’t expose them to the controversial topics inherent in our democracy.”

Time spent teaching social studies has declined in the last two decades, particularly since the 2001 passage of No Child Left Behind, which favored a focus on math, reading and accountability as a way of addressing the country’s growing achievement gap between rich and poor children. Social studies in the early grades was especially affected by that legislation: kindergarten through second grade became reading, writing and math crunch time in preparation for the testing that begins in third grade.

Read the full article about the importance of social studies classes by Sarah Gonser at The Hechinger Report.