Minnesotans Protest State Social Studies Standards

Back to February 2013 Ed Reporter

Minnesotans Protest State
Social Studies Standards

Minnesota citizens submitted enough hearing requests to force an administrative law judge to hear their concerns over the failings of the Minnesota Department of Education’s proposed social studies core standards. Critics offered testimony in December regarding poor content, lack of rigor, and the standards’ alleged violations of several laws.

Those presenting testimony against the proposed standards included two college professors, two state legislators, a former Advanced Placement biology teacher, a woman raised in communist Poland, businesspeople, and several other concerned citizens. Some citizens objected that the social studies standards make no mention of Christopher Columbus, Sacagawea, Thomas Paine, William Penn, Abraham Lincoln, or Theodore Roosevelt. Neither do the standards mention liberty, patriotism, or religious freedom.

A general villainization of America was summarized in the following Education Liberty Watch testimony:

Securing inherent rights of life, liberty, and property has made America the freest, most prosperous, and most generous nation in the history of the world.ÿYet the concept of American exceptionalism is completely absent from these standards.ÿInstead, there is an incredibly out of balance emphasis on the concept of America as an oppressive culture with an almost obsessive focus on racism, slavery and the wrongs done to the indigenous peoples. (12-20-2012)

Among those persons critics say the World History curriculum fails to mention are Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Mao, Margaret Thatcher, and Osama bin Ladin. According to Education Liberty Watch testimony, the standards demonstrate a “failure to properly contrast the deprivation, failure, and death associated with communism/command economies with the benefits of capitalism and free markets. The phrase ‘free market’ has been removed” from the standards.

Critics of the standards also cited several violations of law, including the decreased rigor from the 2004 standards that is a violation of Minnesota statutes that demand increased rigor.

The proposed standards state, “Several leading social studies sources support the need for students to develop skills to become effective global citizens.” This can be construed as supporting loyalty to entities and governance outside of the U.S. and is therefore inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution, consistency with which is required by Minnesota statute governing the standards.

It is also alleged that linking the social studies standards to federal Common Core standards violates federal statutes prohibiting interference by the federal government in academic curriculum or content.

Opponents of the new social studies standards suggest that the 2004 curriculum remain in effect until a better curriculum can be devised.