10/09/2013 HYDE PARK, MA A school bus stopped to pick up students along Neponset Valley Parkway (cq) in Hyde Park. Boston Public School buses were on the roads again following yesterday's strike. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Students get onto a Boston Public School bus.
GLOBE

It’s unclear where the rumor originated, but social media was abuzz with speculation that the Boston Public School System might be planning the “secret elimination” of the History and Social Studies departments.

Brian Ballou, the Director of Media Relations for BPS, said he does not know where the rumors originated, but that he believes they surfaced two days ago on Twitter.

“With rumors, it’s hard to track where they start, but what’s important to us now is that we get the right word out. We’ve been getting various calls from media and concerned parents and teachers about it, so we put together a statement that’s our stance,” Ballou said.

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A petition on change.org entitled “Reinstate the Department of History & Social Studies as a core academic content discipline in the Boston Public Schools” surfaced shortly after the rumors were sparked, and as of today, the petition had over 1,300 signatures.

The petition said it would be “unacceptable and indefensible” that the nation’s first public school system “would approve a restructuring plan to defund and demote the academic significance of History and Social Studies.”

Ballou said that no, BPS would not be eliminating History or Social Studies, and that they would also not be letting the English department “take over” the two departments.

To counteract the increasing outrage on social media, BPS interim Superintendent John McDonough released a statement today: Not only will the English, History, and Social Studies departments remain as distinct entities, they will be “improving and coordinating the use of instructional materials throughout all subject areas.”

BPS is trying to coordinate the curriculum across different subject areas.

“One example would be if you’re working in the language and literacy department, some of the content could be history-based, so in terms of literacy, you’re reading history-based content,” Ballou said.