Action Steps for the Campaign

There is no one more important to the success of this campaign than YOU!
The greatest resource available to NCSS in communicating the importance of social studies education is its more than 26,000 members. If each did just one activity each school year in support of the campaign, think of the impact there would be throughout the country.
So far in this Toolkit, you have been provided with some advice on public relations concepts and some PR ideas that have worked. If you review these materials and try one or two new things each school year, you'll be an important part of the campaign.
In this section, some specific strategies are presented to communicate through the news media. Plus, numerous samples are provided for you to adapt and use locally.


Placing the Op-EPlacing the Op-Ed Article
What Is an Op-Ed Article?
An Op-Ed or Opinion Article is an opinion piece published in a newspaper, which often are written by someone who is not on that newspaper's staff. Many large dailies, smaller dailies, and weekly newspapers use op-eds somewhere in their editorial section. In many large newspapers, that paper's editorials, the editorial cartoon and columns by staff writers will appear on one editorial page. Opposite that page, the op-ed articles will be run, and that's where the term "op-ed" comes from-- it's opposite the editorial page.
The important point is that these articles provide anyone with the chance to publish his or her opinion. You don't have to convince a reporter to come and cover something; you can express your opinion. You may see that the president of the chamber of commerce or taxpayers association are published in the op-ed columns. This opportunity is available to you, too.

So What Do I Do?
First, determine whether newspapers in your area use op-ed articles. You can do this simply by reading the editorial pages. See if national columnists or local officials are published. Read these articles. Become familiar with style, length, format, messages, and anything else that makes them stand out.
Second, decide roughly what you would like to write. Sample topics for this campaign might include:

  • What today's social studies includes
  • How social studies leads to effective citizens
  • Success of social studies education
  • How social studies education leads to participation in the democratic process

Third, select the newspaper to which you would like to submit your op-ed article and find out who makes decisions about those articles at the paper. It's typical to select the largest newspaper in your community and offer the article to that paper on an exclusive basis, meaning you will not submit it elsewhere until that newspaper decides whether it will use the piece. If that paper publishes the article, you cannot later give it to another paper. If the first newspaper does not use your article, you are free to send it elsewhere once the decision to reject is made.
To find out the name of the person in charge of op-ed articles, simply phone the newspaper and ask. On large papers, there will probably be one editor of the op-ed page. On smaller papers, the editorial page editor will make the decision; on weeklies, it will probably be the editor or publisher. Give that individual a call and let him or her know your interest in writing an op-ed article and the topic. Focus on why your article is important to the community. Let the editor know you'll offer this exclusively. The editor will hopefully express an interest in looking at your article. Do not expect to be told that your article will be printed. If the editor is interested, ask about length, deadlines, and any other details.

Now You're Ready To Write
Once the editor has said he or she will consider your article, it's time to write. Review the sample we have provided. Please consider it as a sample, which you could and should adapt. Consider adding local examples--that will make the article much stronger. Write in a crisp, clear style. It's essential to forget educational jargon.
After writing and editing the article, send or deliver it to the op-ed editor. The sooner you can get this done after your phone conversation the better, because your proposal will be fresh in the editor's mind. If you mail your article, it's okay to phone the editor a few days later to confirm that the article has been received and inquire when a decision might be made. Frequent phone calls, however, will bug the editor, hurt your chances of publication, and are inappropriate.

About Yourself
It's appropriate to include a few sentences about yourself since some newspapers identify the writer of op-ed articles. This should not be your resume, but one or two sentences. For example:
John Smith has been a social studies teacher at Sunnyside Middle School since 1988. He was named Teacher of the Year for Sunnyside Schools last year.

Afterwards
If your article is used, it would be appropriate to write a thank you note to the person who made the decision. You should develop a relationship with this individual for the future.
If there are key people in your community who should see the message in your op-ed article, send copies of it to them. Having your message published adds credibility to it-- make use of that. Appropriate people to see your message might be state legislators, locally elected officials, business leaders, parent group leaders, etc.

Some Final Points
And three final suggestions:

  • Do not ask for a guarantee that your article will be used-- only for the chance to submit it and have it reviewed.
  • Submit your article typed doubled spaced.
  • Include a cover letter on your school or council letterhead, thanking the editor for this opportunity.


Sample Op-Ed Article

Op Ed on Value of Social Studies

By Your Name
Today's social studies is more important than ever before for students in kindergarten through high school. The vast array of courses under the social studies umbrella teach students the skills they need to be effective citizens. Whether it's through a community service project where students learn to appreciate the value of "giving back" or a civic course where students learn how to influence a bill in the state legislature, what students learn in social studies will allow them to be responsible citizens in our modern society. Social studies education is the thread that holds our democracy together.

As our nation strives to promote citizen interest in voting and participation in the democratic process, social studies education delivers valuable lessons. Social studies teachers provide students first hand experience in how the electoral process works, and not just by reading books. Mock elections are held in government classes where students play the role of delegates to political parties, nominate candidates and plan campaigns. In other settings candidates are encouraged to come to social studies classes to discuss the issues with students and aspects of campaigning such as debates and advertising. In such activities, students learn to listen critically to positions people state, evaluate those positions, and make decisions.

In still other schools, students are given the opportunity to shadow elected officials for a day to see what being mayor or a councilperson actually entails. All of these activities, and more that are being offered in our schools every day, expose youngsters to the workings of a democracy so that they can make intelligent decisions as adults.

Some schools even go further, offering 18-year-olds and members of the nearby community the chance to register to vote before elections. Working with such organizations as the League of Women Voters, students publicize the opportunity in a non-partisan manner working to generate greater participation. They learn to work with other people and develop pride in their contributions to the community.

Social studies educators often supervise extended programs to provide students with additional eye-opening experiences that set the foundation for participation in our democratic form of government. These include field trips to the state capitol or even Washington, D.C.

Some educational experiences, especially at the high school level, actually have students become involved in projects that have a positive impact on their community right now. Classes would study challenges that face their community, ranging from providing activities for the elderly to identifying the source of pollution in a local water supply to assuring that young children have a clean recreation area. They adopt one of those challenges, meet with community leaders to learn about the problem, discuss potential solutions, determine a strategy to solve the problem, and implement that strategy. Their work could include convincing the city council to allocate funding for a solution, seeking coverage of the issue in the local news media, mobilizing public opinion to become involved in the solution, and other strategies that are essential in a democracy.

Still other schools stress community service projects where students experience the positive feeling of helping other people. Activities range from collecting food for flood victims to serving food at a homeless shelter to meeting with the elderly in senior homes.

The opportunities that social studies provide students today are endless. Students are learning to listen critically, develop arguments to support their beliefs, evaluate what others say, think critically, and make informed decisions. What all social studies classes have in common is that they are all helping young people understanding the value our democratic ideals. They are building effective citizens for the future.

Op Ed on Parental Support

By Your Name

Today's social studies is more important than ever before for students in kindergarten through high school. Frankly, it's through the vast array of courses under the social studies umbrella that students are learning to be effective citizens. Whether it's in an economics class teaching about the global financial structure or a civic course where students learn how to influence a bill in the state legislature, what students are taught in social studies will allow them to assume their responsibilities and succeed in our modern society.
However, while social studies teachers are working hard to give students the skills they need, students will learn more when there is a partnership between the home and the school. It was been said that the parent is the child's first teacher, and there's much parents can do to support success in social studies education.
Here are some ways parents can help their youngster gain the most from the important world of social studies education.
1. Don't let significant holidays pass without discussing their historical importance and how their lessons apply today. There must be more to July 4 than firecrackers and more to Thanksgiving than turkey. Take time to discuss with your child the meaning of such holidays and their relationships to our lives today. For example, lessons of tolerance can be taught through the travels of the Pilgrims.
2. Demonstrate to your child that you really do believe in civic responsibility. You can start with a younger child by participating in such service activities as serving food at a homeless shelter or "adopting" a street and keeping it free of litter. As youngsters grow older, you can become involved in more complex activities, such as fighting any attempts in your neighborhood to discriminate against people because of race, religion, sex, ethnic origin, or opinion.
3. Keep your eye on television programs. The better ones deal with such social studies subjects as historical events, life in the cities, rising population, cost of living, environmental pollution, social security for the aged, and international tensions. View such programs together with your child and discuss ways citizens can get involved such issues.
4. Subscribe to at least two magazines or newspapers that take widely different positions on issues, so that your child can learn to become familiar with a variety of viewpoints and understand that it's okay for people to hear different views. You can also do this by watching television news together or using newspapers and magazine at the public library.
5. Encourage your youngster to express his or her ideas on political, economic and social matters freely at home--even if they differ from your own. Discuss ideas on a basis of mutual respect for each other as individuals. Starting at an early age to demonstrate to your children that it's okay for people to have different opinions will serve them well as they age.
6. Go with your child to political, economic, and social events from which he or she can learn important social studies lessons. For example, a school board meeting where the school budget is discussed or a public hearing concerning construction of a playground near your home should interest students. In addition to attending the meeting, go one step further and work with your child in making a presentation to the governing body.
7. Finally, let your students know that despite wars, famine, corruption, and other conditions that plague our world, you have not lost faith in the ability of human beings to solve their problems. It's difficult for children to have faith in principles that their parents no longer accept.

Writing the News Release
News releases are a standard way to communicate with both print and electronic reporters. You can consider them both to announce successes of your program and new events that are happening in social studies education. However, news releases should be sent only when you have information reporters want to receive. If you earn a reputation for filling their mailboxes with inappropriate information, your releases quickly will be filling their wastebaskets and your credibility will suffer. When you have a newsworthy topic, remember the rules of journalistic writing-- keep it short, use action words, and edit out everything that is not necessary.
Also, the strategic communicator sees how even basic news releases can be used to achieve the organization's communication objectives. For example, a typical release is one announcing an association's newly elected president and other officers. In addition to listing the names, consider including a quote from the president, which describes the value of social studies education.
Most news articles are written in what's called the "inverted pyramid style." This simply means the most important information is at the start of the story and the least at the bottom. That way, if there is limited space, the material at the bottom can be eliminated. Journalists also talk about the five Ws and the H being included early in the story. That's who, what, where, why, when, and how. With that approach you deliver the key information quickly.
The sample news releases that follow will provide an idea of style. Plus, keep these general guidelines in mind:

  • News releases should express fact not opinion. The expression of opinion is called "editorializing" and should appear on the editorial pages. That's where op-ed articles come into play. In a release, report the facts and stay away from adjectives such as "wonderful teacher," or "outstanding program." Show that programs are outstanding by reporting their achievements.
  • In a news release you can express an opinion if it's in a quote from a person or in a statement attributed to an individual.
  • Make sure the facts are accurate. There's nothing that will kill your credibility more quickly than sending out incorrect information. Always verify your facts.
  • Newspapers have a unique style. For example, months are abbreviated when used in a complete date, but spelled out when standing alone. Titles are capitalized if used before a person's name and lower case if following a name. Find a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook to learn news style. Many libraries have this, or it can be purchased through many college bookstores that teach news writing.
  • Be sure to have a contact name and phone number for further information. If a reporter loves your story but has one question, having this information could mean the difference between publication and the trash can. Usually the contact information appears at the top of the release.
  • Releases should be doubled-spaced and single-sided. This allows reporters to make changes and notes on the release, plus it's easier to read.
  • Use an individual's first and last names (middle initial if desired) the first time that individual is mentioned and only the last name with each subsequent mention.
  • If the release is more than one page, each page except the last one should have "more" centered at the bottom. This indicates there's more to the release.
  • Use any of the following symbols at the end of the story:
    ### -30- XXX

When delivering the news release, there are also guidelines to keep in mind. Most importantly, treat all media equally. Don't deliver the release personally to one reporter and mail it third class to others. Remember that media are competitive.
Know reporters' deadlines. If a weekly newspaper has a deadline of Tuesday noon, don't deliver your release Wednesday morning and expect to see it printed.
Keep the fax machine in mind. Sending your release by fax adds a sense of urgency to it. However, if you fax every release or less important releases, credibility becomes an issue. In major cities for very timely, important events, delivery services can also add this sense of importance. Overnight mail should only be used when requested by the news organization.
More reporters are using email, and they would likely prefer to receive releases via email. You should check with reporters with whom you work to determine the most appropriate way to deliver releases.
Three sample news releases follow.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information:
Sam Adams
202.555.1234

Local Student Wins State Social Studies Award

Sunnyside, Virginia--February 30, 2000 -- Susan Smith, a senior at Sunnyside High School, was named the school's top social studies student for the 2000-2001 school year. Principal Charles Kennedy presented Smith with a certificate and $100 Savings Bond during a school-wide assembly today.

Smith, who has maintained a 3.75 grade point average in her social studies classes won top prize in the Sunnyside Economic Fair this year. She has been president of the Model United Nations chapter for two years, and initiated a "History in our Community" program with the Sunnyside Senior Citizens Club. Smith was one of eight Sunnyside students nominated for this award by the school's 12 social studies teachers.

"Susan is an outstanding example of today's young people," Kennedy said. "She has shown tremendous initiative in developing a history project that involved senior citizens with our school. Her work is a clear demonstration that social studies education today is essential to a complete education and is helping students become effective citizens."

Smith is the sixth recipient of this annual award instituted in 1995 to honor the school's top social studies student. Sunnyside High School has a student population of approximately 1,200 in Grades 9-12.

Smith plans to attend San Jose State University in the fall.

Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence.

-30-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information:
Sam Adams, 202/555-1234
September 15, 2000

LOCAL TEACHER NAMED TO STATE LEADERSHIP POSITION

SUNNYSIDE, OHIO -- October 13, 2000
-- Becky Franklin, economics teacher, Sunnyside High School, has been elected president of the 1,000-member Sunnyside Council for the Social Studies (SCSS).
Franklin, who has taught at Sunnyside for 10 years, was elected this week at the association's annual professional development conference. She will serve a one-year term beginning in October and plans to help create a more accurate understanding of social studies education throughout the state.
"Today's social studies education is more important than ever before," Franklin said. "Social studies provides diverse offerings from economics to geography to sociology--all designed to help students become effective citizens."

-30-


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information:
Sam Adams, 202/555-1234
September 15, 2000

SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATORS CALL UPON PARENTS FOR HELP IN TEACHING SKILLS

SUNNYSIDE, OHIO -- October 13, 2000
-- Social studies educators in the Sunnyside County Public Schools have called upon parents throughout the community to assist them in teaching students the essential skills needed to be effective citizens in the coming years.
"As students prepare to succeed in a global society, the skills they learn in the many subjects that comprise social studies will make them thoughtful citizens who are prepared to study issues and make informed decisions," said Sally Kennedy, economics teacher, Sunnyside High School. "Social studies education promotes knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs and produces effective citizens.
"Students, however, will learn these skills more quickly if parents support their social studies education outside of school. Parents are important partners in education, and can have fun with their youngsters at the same time."
The Sunnyside County teachers suggest parents consider a number of ways in which they can become involved in their youngster's education:

  • Commend your youngster on achievements in the classroom. Too frequently we only praise students when they are successful on the sports field or in the band. They need to know they academic achievement is just as important, if not more so.
  • Encourage your child to express his or her ideas on political, economic, and social matters freely at home--even if they differ from your own. Have a discussion of ideas based on mutual respect for each other as individuals.

-more-

SOCIAL STUDIES EDUCATORS 2 - 2 - 2

  • Subscribe to at least two magazines or newspapers that take widely different positions on issues, so that your youngster can learn that a variety of viewpoints exist in our world. Discuss these views with each other, emphasizing the importance of studying all views before making your own decision.
  • Watch television with your child, especially news, history, and issue-oriented shows. The increase in cable television stations presents a wealth of educational programming. Discuss why history happened as it did, why leaders made some decisions and whether those decisions would be appropriate today. Encourage your child to think critically.
  • Don't let significant holidays pass by unnoticed. There must be more to July 4 than firecrackers and more to Thanksgiving than turkey. Discuss with your child the meaning of such holidays and their relationships to our lives today.
  • Go with your youngster to political, economic and social events that will be learning experiences. These could include a session of a local political group, a taxpayers meeting called to discuss a school district budget, a public hearing concerning the construction of a playground near your home, a debate about the need for low-cost housing.
  • Demonstrate to your child that you really believe in the importance of good citizenship by taking actions with him or her against any attempts in your neighborhood to discriminate against people based on race, religion, sex, ethnic origin, or opinion.
  • Let your children know that despite wars, corruption, and inequalities, you have not lost faith in the ability of human beings to solve their problems. It's difficult for children to have faith in principles that their parents no longer accept.

###

Using Radio Public Service Announcements
What Is a PSA?
Public service announcements are messages aired by radio and television stations at no cost to the sponsors. PSAs also can be published by print media. Typically, they must have a message that is a public service and be provided by a non-profit organization. Radio PSAs are powerful tools to create greater awareness because of the number of people who listen to radio while driving, in the office, working at home, weeding the front yard, etc. PSAs usually are 10, 15, 30, or 60 seconds.
People placing PSAs should remember that stations are mailed hundreds of them each week. Many are not used, and others are used at times which are not the best (3 a.m., for example).

Who Decides What Is Played?
Most stations will have a public service or public affairs director who decides which PSAs will be used and when they will be played. Smaller stations may not have a person with this title, but you can ask for whoever is in charge of PSAs. It's important to remember that PSAs are usually scheduled four weeks before they are played. Thus, if you have a time in mind when you want your spot aired, you should approach the station at least four weeks before you hope to hear it on air.

Is There a Best Strategy for Placing a PSA?
There is, and it's the personal touch. Educators should not just ask to have a PSA aired; they should attempt to develop a relationship with the radio station that benefits both parties. For example, someone from the news staff at a radio station could come to a class and talk about the news business. He or she could talk to a journalism class about working at a radio station and journalistic ethics. Tours of the stations could also be arranged. Disc jockeys (the right ones) could be invited to emcee a school dance. Radio people like to get into the community and usually will appreciate such invitations. And if you have established this relationship, it's much more likely that your PSA will be selected.

Making It Happen
This Toolkit contains some sample public service announcements designed for radio stations. Review them to determine whether the content makes sense for you. Feel free to edit the copy, but try to include the key words from the campaign.
Once you are comfortable with the copy, identify the radio stations heard in your community and obtain their telephone numbers. All stations-- large and small--may use PSAs, and it's appropriate to give them all the same treatment.
Phone the station and ask for the public service director or person in charge of playing public service announcements. Identify yourself as a local social studies educator -- stress your connection with the community. Indicate that you have copy for some PSAs and you would like the station to consider using them. Stress that they have important information on ways parents can help students learn. Such advice makes them truly public service announcements. Ask if you can deliver or mail them to the station.
Always remember the importance of developing a relationship with your contact at the station. If that relationship is good, you can request that the PSAs be played at a good time. If this is the first time you have met the PSA director, it's probably best not to make many requests.
Another approach to this would be to produce the PSAs yourself and deliver them to the station on a cassette. Some high schools have radio production facilities and could assist you. In fact, you could have student voices on the tapes and make this into a student project. If a school in your district doesn't have this capability, you might inquire with a local community college or university.


Sample PSAs
(These public service announcements are designed to be read in 30 seconds. However, depending upon the readying style of the announcer, there may need to be additions or cuts to fit the 30-second format. Work with the announcer to make those changes. Most radio and TV stations prefer the copy to be typed and in ALL CAPS.)

30-Second PSA
Announcer: Social studies education today is more important than ever before. Students are learning how to be global citizens, how to think critically, what impact the past has on today's challenges, and so much more. It all means they are going to be more effective citizens.
But educators need your help. Here's one way parents can help support students.
Commend your youngster on achievements in the classroom. Too frequently we only praise students when they are successful on the sports field or in the band. They need to know they academic achievement is just as important, if not more so.
This is a message from this station and the social studies educators in this community, committed to helping students develop into effective citizens.


30-Second PSA
Announcer: Social studies education today is more important than ever before. Students are learning how to be global citizens, how to think critically, what impact the past has on today's challenges, and so much more. It all means they are going to be more effective citizens.
But educators need your help. Here's one way parents can help support students.
Encourage your child to express his or her ideas on political, economic, and social matters freely at home--even if they differ from your own. Have a discussion of ideas based on mutual respect for each other as individuals.
This is a message from this station and the social studies educators in this community, committed to helping students develop into effective citizens.



30-Second PSA
Announcer: Social studies education today is more important than ever before. Students are learning how to be global citizens, how to think critically, what impact the past has on today's challenges, and so much more. It all means they are going to be more effective citizens.
But educators need your help. Here's one way parents can help support students.
Subscribe to at least two magazines or newspapers that take widely different positions on issues, so that your youngster can learn that a variety of viewpoints exist in our world. Discuss these views with each other, emphasizing the importance of studying all views before making your own decision.
This is a message from this station and the social studies educators in this community, committed to helping students develop into effective citizens.


30-Second PSA
Announcer: Social studies education today is more important that ever before. Students are learning how to be global citizens, how to think critically, what impact the past has on today's challenges, and so much more. It all means they are going to be more effective citizens.
But educators need your help. Here's one way parents can help support students.
Watch television with your child, espe Watch television with your child, especially news, history, and issue-oriented shows. The increase in cable television stations presents a wealth of educational programming. Discuss why history happened as it did, why leaders made some decisions and whether those decisions would be appropriate today. Encourage your child to think critically.
This is a message from this station and the social studies educators in this community, committed to helping students develop into effective citizens.




Delivering a Successful Speech
Delivering the message of social studies through public presentations can be a highly effective means of developing public understanding and support.

The First Step
While it may sound obvious, be sure that you give yourself plenty of time to prepare for success. You should review the sample speech very carefully before ever delivering it publicly. Make certain that all information and examples are appropriate for your community, determine whether there are better examples to include, and practice actually delivering the speech to assure that you are comfortable saying all the words. Some individuals easily move through specific sounds and phases while others stumble over the same material. You want to identify any potential pitfalls before you are in front of an audience. Yes, this sounds obvious, but there have been cases of educators reading a speech for the first time as they presented it at back to school night.
Remember that the speech in this Toolkit is a sample. It includes important points to make; however, it is your speech to adapt so that it will be as powerful as possible in your community. Especially, identify any hot buttons or specific terms that will create problems in your community. Replace them with material that is more appropriate for your area.
If you can add local examples to support the key points, you will strengthen your presentation considerably.
Eliminate any and all education jargon from the speech. Your goal is for people in the audience to leave with the key points in their minds. They will have to understand and remember what you say. In public speaking, it's wise to keep it simple.

Know Your Audience
Every audience is different. You should find out as much as possible about the specific audience you will be addressing. Determine whether there will be a large percentage of senior citizens who have grandchildren in your schools, business people, or others with specific interests. Your speech may be adapted slightly depending upon the audience. More importantly, you may need to be ready for a different set of questions.
That is a key point for any speech. The real exchange of information is likely to come during the question and answer period. You should always attempt to predict what questions will come from any audience. You don't want surprises.
Consider these steps in scouting your audience:

  • Ask the coordinator of the meeting to describe the audience. Find out about potential numbers and the make-up. Ask as many questions as you feel appropriate.
  • Find someone who is a member of that group and ask questions. If that individual is a friend, seek advice on the best way to approach the audience and questions which might be asked.
  • See if a colleague has ever spoken to that group and ask about those experiences.
  • Attend a meeting of the group. This will give you first hand information.

Once you have obtained all the information you can about your audience, review the speech again for any final alterations. Then anticipate questions and plan your responses to them.

Check Out the Location
There are a number of steps to take before ever saying the first word in your speech. And those steps may be what determine whether you are successful or not.
If you are working with a president or chairperson of the group in setting up the speech, there are additional questions to ask in addition to those about the audience. Determine:

  • The setting of the room. Will you be in a "cozy setting" or is the room going to be long and narrow, where you will have to work to keep the attention of those in the rear of the room?
  • Whether you will be speaking from a head table, podium, or free to "walk the room." This can determine whether you'll be able to rely extensively on notes, what type of microphone to request, and how easy it will be to involve the audience.
  • Whether others will be speaking at the same meeting. If there will also be a speaker who opposes the middle level concept, you should know that now.
  • Whether there will be a meal served, whether there will be alcohol served with that meal, whether there will be a cocktail hour beforehand, and when your speech will fall in that mix. Speaking after the audience has had several drinks can require a different approach.

Also, determine whether you will need to use a microphone and request the type of mike you prefer. If you are going to walk around the audience and/or use transparencies, you may wish to have a cordless lavaliere microphone. You may not always be able to get what you want, but you can always ask.
Arrive at the location early. Make sure that you have time to confirm that all the equipment you have requested is there and works. If you plan to use transparencies, but find that the projector is not there, it's best to have time to plan any changes you will have to make in your speech. If you wish to have water at the podium, you can make sure it's available during this time. Determine whether there's a spare bulb for your projector and that you know how to install it. If not, find someone who can show you. Probably, you will not need to do this, but, if you do, it's embarrassing not to know how to fix the problem.

Preparing the Handout
The kit also includes a handout so people can leave your presentation with the key points they need to remember. Again, review the handout to assure that it is appropriate for your audience. If it can be improved, do so. Be sure to ask your host how many people will be in the audience, and bring more copies than you think you will need. Determine how the handouts will be distributed. Should they be placed at the seats before people arrive, distributed as you speak, or available as people leave the room? Try to make sure people are given the handouts and that they are not just "made available" to people.

Remember the 'Campaign' Concept
To make an effective contribution to this campaign, you should look for ways to deliver your presentation frequently and for many years. This speech should not be used once, then filed to collect dust. Develop a plan to share this important information with key people throughout your community.
It's always wise to start with "friendly" groups. As you become more experienced, reach out to other important audiences. Consider the following:

  • School staff, including support staff who share information throughout the community.
  • Parents, PTAs, PTSAs, home-school clubs, and booster clubs.
  • Feeder schools, including teachers, other staff, and parents. School Boards. They make policy decisions about your school system.
  • Civic organizations, such as Kiwanis, Elks, Rotary. Many include the community's opinion leaders and offer assistance for schools they support.
  • Realtors. Frequently, they are the first people to discuss education with new members of the community.
  • Business groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Senior citizens. They can be a rich source of volunteer help if they understand and support your school.

Do not be embarrassed about creating speaking opportunities for yourself. Don't just expect that invitations will flood your office. Reach out to organizations, especially during periods when education is on everyone's mind, such as American Education Week (the third week in November) or the start of school.
Identify people you know who are in key groups. The spouse of one of your staff members could be an officer in your Chamber of Commerce or on the local Realty Board. Or, a parent volunteer could be involved in the Rotary Club. Ask those people about the best way to speak to their group.
If you don't have such contacts, your Chamber of Commerce is likely to have a listing of civic organizations and their presidents or program chairpersons.
In the interest of developing community support, consider, when appropriate, inviting news reporters to cover your speech. Be sure to coordinate this with the host from the organization. This could result in a news article, which delivers your message to a larger audience. It also may lead to additional invitations.

Other Ideas To Consider
Here are additional tips, which have proven to be worthwhile to speakers over the years:

  • Keep a speech file with this kit in which you can include new data, local examples to insert into future speeches, jokes or light moments that you can blend into the speech. You can use this speech for years, but adding current information will keep it fresh.
  • Include a student or group of students in your presentation when appropriate. If students have recently completed a service program in the community, introduce them to the civic group where you are speaking.
  • Consider carrying your presentation with you whenever you attend a civic meeting--even when you aren't scheduled to be the speaker. One school public relations professional was given the opportunity to fill in for a speaker who didn't show six times in one year.
  • Personalize your speech to make it more meaningful to your specific audience. Cite examples from local schools and your community.
  • Humor is good in speaking, but don't over-do it.
  • Ask a colleague to critique your presentation. One goal for you is to improve your presentation each time you deliver it.
  • Eliminate everything from the speech that does not add something to it.
  • The shorter the better. The right time will vary depending upon the audience and the circumstances. A good guideline is never plan for more than 20 minutes.



Sample speech
(Before using this speech, please review it carefully to assure that all statements are appropriate for your community. There may be some statements that do not apply to your area. Eliminate those. Also, look for places where you can add local examples. The more you can localize this speech, the more effective it will be. Areas where local examples may be appropriate are indicated in bold face, italic type. Remember that this speech draft is available on the NCSS website, so you can easily download it and adapt it with alternations that make it more powerful for your audience.)

Thank you for the chance to spend a few minutes discussing with you an essential part of a child's education--a part that has a direct bearing on the quality of students lives as they move into the adult world and on our community.
There is much demanded of our schools today. A rapidly evolving world where the amount of knowledge doubles every five years requires not only that young people learn information, but that they learn how to learn so they can continue to seek the knowledge that will allow them to reach their full potential. And that learning takes places primarily in our elementary, middle level and high schools across the country.
As the demands have increased to provide modern learning opportunities for all students, much attention has been given to literacy, mathematics, science and technology. Clearly, these subjects are essential to a student's education. However, they do not comprise a total education. Just as important is social studies. It has been an essential aspect of a complete education ever since public schools were created and will continue to be so as long as our democracy survives.
Perhaps Thomas Jefferson said it best around the birth of our great nation, observing "The nation that expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization expects what never has been and never will be." Jefferson saw that learning and a democracy went hand in hand. An effective democracy demands educated citizens who can make informed and wise decisions. That's why Jefferson cited one of his most important contributions as serving as president of the University of Virginia.
The same holds true today. Whether it's voting in a national or local election, making an informed decision about a regional issue, or understanding the workings of local government to protect your personal interests, social studies education is essential for us all. Social studies teaches a diverse range of skills and knowledge, including historical perspective, problem solving, economic systems, the value of service, geography, and much, much more. In fact, social studies education is the thread that holds our great democracy together. Without the lessons students learn in social studies, they will not succeed as individuals and our communities will not prosper.
Today, social studies education includes so much more than Mr. Jefferson might have predicted. Under the broad umbrella of social studies education, students take classes in anthropology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology. And while 10 subject areas fall into a social studies education, students receive lessons in an integrated approach. Thus, they are able to see how history provides the foundation for some of our legal concepts or how geography influences international economic decisions.
(In our local school(s), we are especially proud of social studies programs that teach .... Consider briefly discussing a new social studies program recently started or one of which you are especially proud.)
Social studies isn't merely a course or two that fill out a student's schedule. It can best be defined as the integrated study of the social studies and humanities to promote civic competence. Social studies education provides a framework for lifelong participation in building engaged and effective communities. And when people are prepared to accept their responsibilities in society, we all benefit. One important purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.
In essence, social studies promotes knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs. And because civic issues--such as health care, crime and foreign policy--are multi-disciplinary in nature, understanding these issues and developing resolutions to them require multidisciplinary education. These characteristics are the key defining aspects of social studies.
Let's look at what this means.
We all remember taking history classes when we were in school, and history is still a very important course today. History teaches perspective so that students learn how things change and develop. This allows them to make informed choices and decisions now and in the future. When it comes to history we can also see the importance of an integrated approach. For example, decisions make in the past have impacted our current environment. Understanding those decisions and alternatives will allow students to understand the consequences of future choices. Throw in what they may learn in an economics class, and they will begin to see how the next decision their local government faces will influence people's lifestyles, economic well-being, and quality of life. Without perspective, people run the risk of repeating mistakes.
History is a subject that impacts students at all levels from third graders role playing a Thanksgiving dinner with Pilgrims and native Americans to high schoolers conducting original research on local historic issues by interviewing longtime residents and publishing a booklet on their remembrances of the community.
(You may want to include a local example of what is taught in your history courses.)
Just as important as learning historical perspectives, it's essential in our diverse, international society to understand cultures, a lesson taught in anthropology and world history classrooms. As we all know, the United States is becoming more and more diverse. (Are there examples of population changes in your community or state? If so, you could cite those to support this point.) Students today learn about other cultures' systems of beliefs, knowledge, values, and traditions so they can relate to people in our nation and throughout the world. This knowledge is valuable whether people are traveling to another nation on vacation, working in an international setting, or simply living in a community of diverse cultures. Basically, social studies education in this area helps us to understand people and live peacefully.
Another important aspect of learning about cultures through social studies education is what happens outside of the classroom. Many schools participate in exchange programs where students from schools in the United States have the chance to live and study in another nation and U.S. schools host youngsters from other countries. (If your school participates in such programs, discuss your participation at this point. You may even want to bring an exchange student to your speech and introduce him or her to the audience if the timing is right.) This allows our students to meet their peers from around the world and learn about them and their nation first hand. We also see that students build friendships that last a lifetime through correspondence and vacations. In fact, when schools host exchange students, it's not just our students who benefit. Host families have the opportunity to meet and learn from these exchange students. And many high schools that host international students will have those youngsters meet with local elementary and middle schools to talk with youngster students.
In addition to exchange programs many schools provide opportunities to learn more about other cultures through co-curricular clubs, such as an International Club. (Cite any clubs at your school.) The bottom line is that everyone is learning first hand that we are all people with certain needs and strengths--that we have more in common than we have differences.
Social studies education also provides a framework for lifelong participation in building engaged and effective communities. It results in people understanding and participating in our democratic process. Students learn about the democratic process, passage of legislation, the three branches of the Federal Government, and the relation between the Federal, state and local governments, providing them with the factual information necessary to participate in decisions throughout their lives. But schools are offering many more experiences, motivating and explaining the operation of our great democracy.
Students today are seeing first hand how government works, and participating in simulations that provide them with personal involvement in a democratic process. Schools may hold mock political conventions, where groups of students nominate candidates after hearing and evaluating speeches. In other schools, local elected leaders are invited into the school to discuss issues with students or students are provided the opportunity to shadow a government official for a day to see actually what his or her job entails.
(This is a good place to include short descriptions of programs in your school.)
Again, many lessons are taught outside of the classroom in a quality social studies program. Most schools offer a student government program where students are elected to leadership positions ranging from student body secretary to sophomore class president, to class historian. They carry out real responsibilities at the school, such as planning the prom and developing partnership programs with senior citizen groups. (In our school, X students are participating in student government. They recently have...)
Schools also organize programs where students visit local and state governments. Others encourage high schoolers to consider an array of national programs that bring students to Washington, D.C. where they meet with Congressmen and members of the Executive Branch to learn firsthand about the operation of our Federal government. (Describe what your students have done recently if appropriate.)
These are a few of the programs that fall under the broad umbrella of social studies education... all focused on making students effective citizens. And there are many more. (If there are programs of special note or pride in your school, add a few a paragraphs about them.)
Geography is an important aspect of the social studies curriculum. Students will soon have to make decisions regarding the relationship between human beings and their environment. Good decisions will be made if they understand space beyond their personal locations.
Students must also understand how the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services are organized in a community, nation or world. These lessons, taught in economics, will allow them to function effectively in an interdependent world economy.
Understanding the relationships among science, technology, and society--taught in sociology, economics, and other social studies classes--will assist students in making the difficult social choices we all face today.
Yet, another important lesson is frequently taught under the social studies umbrella. That is the value in assisting others. More and more school systems and states are requiring that high school students complete a certain number of hours of community service before graduation. Learning that one can help others and the good feelings that come with service is another way that social studies education helps to build effective communities.
(It is important to explain three to five local examples of service projects. They can include students working with senior citizens, collecting food or clothing for homeless victims, peer tutoring, working at a homeless shelter, etc. Include information on how many students are involved and cite data that show the significance of their efforts. If there are any students who have done a truly significant service project, focus on that student as one example.)
There truly is a great deal that social studies education does today in being the thread that holds our society together. It's clear that social studies is relevant and very much alive in today's classrooms. However, as social studies educators, we are always looking for ways that we can make our programs even better for students. And we can use your help. Consider these ideas on how you can help students in our community.
1. Don't let significant holidays pass without discussing their historical importance and how their lessons apply today. There must be more to July 4 than firecrackers and more to Thanksgiving than turkey. Take time to discuss with your child the meaning of such holidays and their relationships to our lives today. For example, lessons of tolerance can be taught through the travels of the Pilgrims.
2. Demonstrate to your child that you really do believe in the importance of good citizenship by taking actions with him or her. You can start with younger child in such service activities as helping to serve food at a homeless shelter or "adopting" a street and keeping it free of litter. As youngsters grow older, you can become involved in more complex activities, such as fighting any attempts in your neighborhood to discriminate against people because of race, religion, sex, ethnic origin, or opinion.
3. Keep your eye on television programs. Many deal effectively with such social studies subjects as historical events, life in the cities, rising population, cost of living, environmental pollution, social security for the aged, and international tensions. View such programs together with your student and discuss ways citizens can impact such issues.
4. Subscribe to at least two magazines or newspapers that take widely different positions on issues, so that your child can learn to become familiar with a variety of viewpoints and understand that it's okay for people to hear different views. You can also do this by watching television news together or using newspapers and magazine at the public library.
5. Encourage your youngster to express his or her ideas on political, economic and social matters freely at home--even if they differ from your own. Discuss ideas on a basis of mutual respect for each other as individuals. Starting at an early age to demonstrate to your children that it's okay for people to have different opinions will serve them well as they age.
6. Go with your child to political, economic, and social events from which he or she can learn important social studies lessons. For example, a school board meeting where the school budget is discussed or a public hearing concerning construction of a playground near your home should interest students. In addition to attending the meeting, go one step further and work with your child in making a presentation to the governing body.
7. Finally, let your students know that despite wars, famine, corruption, and other conditions that plague our world, you have not lost faith in the ability of human beings to solve their problems. It's difficult for children to have faith in principles that their parents don't support.
Social studies education is an essential part of any school, whether it is elementary, middle or high school. It results in people understanding and participating in the democratic process, provides a framework for lifelong participation in our communities, and leads to effective citizenship. Social studies education truly is the thread that holds our democracy together.
The social studies educators in this community are proud of what we are offering our students, and we invite you to become our partners in making social studies an even more important part of all students' education. These efforts will result in well-informed and motivated young citizens and a stronger community.
Thank you for this opportunity to be with you today.

(Consider passing out one or both of the sample handouts in the Toolkit.)