HM - May 2019 - New Jersey Council Spotlight

State Council Spotlight


The New Jersey Council for History Education 

By Greg Matlosz
NJCHE Vice President

The New Jersey Council for History Education is in the process of planning its 27th annual conference at Princeton University. With over 400 participants each year, the NJCHE brings nationally renowned historians to secondary level educators. The desire to attend this conference is based on the opportunity to listen and discuss historical events with "history rock stars," like Joseph Ellis or H.W. Brands. The constant demand for historical knowledge is what keeps this conference as must-see event for New Jersey's educators. New Jersey's high schools provide a variety of history courses a student can take. The NJCHE meets the educator's demand by ensuring a variety of topics are presented year to year. For example, the NJCHE was pleased to welcome Richard Warner (Wabash College) presented Toward a Big History of Food, Libby O’Connell (U.S. World War I Centennial Commission) presented Feeding the Fight: Food, Policy, and Propaganda in World War I, Richard White (Stanford University) presented Gilded Age United States and Modern America, and David Greenberg (Rutgers University) presented The Politics of Authenticity in the Age of Spin at November 30, 2018 NJCHE Princeton Conference.  
 While planning the 27th annual conference, the NJCHE  is continuing to expand into the areas of need: elementary and middle school history education. The call for help in elementary history education has largely been ignored  by school leaders and organizations due to a heavy focus on mathematics and language arts towards state assessments. In 2015, the NJCHE decided to change that. At first, summer seminars were utilized to bring elementary and middle school teachers to vertically articulate (sequence and continuity to improve a teacher's and student's knowledge on a given subject) their needs within history. From there, the NJCHE expanded this experience to round table meetings where elementary educators had the opportunity to discuss what social studies programs and lessons have worked for them. The NJCHE felt the need to incorporate at least one speaker during these meetings, e.g., representative from the Library of Congress, to provide hope and support that, yes, an elementary teacher has the resources and tools they need to infuse history education into their language arts lessons, especially, when there is a lack of time in a school's schedule. The elementary round table meetings have evolved into a travelling professional development opportunity.  Basically, the NJCHE will come to your school to provide the tools and resources to ensure success in your classroom.  On May 30, The NJCHE will be in Jefferson Township, NJ. The DBQ Project is scheduled to present their elementary DBQ series.
The NJCHE is in the early stages of establishing a middle school history education conference. The concept will consist of a content-based practice, like the Princeton Conference, but will also break out into sessions where middle school educators will have the opportunity to discuss that content with professors, presenters,  and colleagues. The need for research-based skills is critical for a student. With conferences and round table meetings, educators can gain the tools they need to provide these skills for their classes.  The majority of New Jersey's middle school's standards focus on world history. The NJCHE is seeking to bring professors of world history and middle school teachers into the same room for the simple purpose of sparking the light of history education for all students.  
The NJCHE is currently planning its 27th Annual Conference at Princeton on the theme of freedom and slavery. We will open the conference with Andrew Delbanco, Professor of American Studies at Columbia University.   He will discuss topics from his latest book, The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War. Immediately following will be Eric Foner who will discuss constitutional amendments from his forthcoming book The Second Founding.  Our final session will be quite different.   We will focus on topics dealing with freedom and the Middle East and it will be called "A Conversation with General David Petraeus"   Jennifer Keene (Chapman University), military historian, will serve as the interviewer for General Petraeus.   
Photos from the 2018 Princeton Conference: 

Richard Warner (Wabash College)                                 Libby O’Connell (U.S. World War I Centennial Commission)

     Left:   Richard White (Standford University)
     Right: David Greenberg (Rutgers University)

About NCHE

The National Council for History Education provides professional and intellectual leadership to foster an engaged community committed to the teaching, learning, and appreciation of diverse histories.