May 6, 2011

Comments on US History Standards from an Attorney and Teacher of the Constitution

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As promised in our last alert, here are the comments on the high school US History Standards by Education Liberty Watch Board member Marjorie Holsten, an attorney and teacher of the US Constitution for home schooled students.  The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON MAY 8TH.


As an Attorney who has taught Constitutional Law to homeschooled high students at local homeschool co-operatives for a number of years, I was anxious to review the content of Minnesota’s new proposed Social Studies Standards for senior high students.  I hoped to see studies of the founding documents of our nation, including discussions of how the checks and balances our founding fathers drafted were intended to limit the power of government to allow people to fully enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without governmental interference.  I knew I would be disappointed by the content, but was unprepared to have my breath taken away by the amount of historical revisionism, liberal bias, and politically correct indoctrination.  I cannot help but think of the statement of Hans Schemm from the Nazi Teacher’s League who said, “Those who have the youth on their side control the future.'”

The Social Studies Standards have four sections:  U.S. History, World History, Geography, and Economics.  The U.S. History Section is by far the worst and is the only topic covered in this article.


The word “analyze” appears 26 times in the U.S. History Standards, and the word “evaluate” appears four times.  The acts of “analyzing” and “evaluating” require students not only to learn and understand material, but also to make judgments.  When students are given only a limited amount of information, and what they are given is one-sided, any judgment they make will be skewed.  It is inappropriate to require students to do so much analyzing and evaluating under these circumstances.  In contrast, the World History section uses the word “analyze” only 7 times, and uses the word “describe” 36 times. (Obviously there were two different authors, with the author of the U.S. History being far to the left of the author of the World History Section.)


The first section on U.S. History is appropriately titled, “U.S. History – Beginning to 1620.”  1620 was a landmark year in our nation’s history, as that was when Pilgrims in search of religious freedom landed at Plymouth Rock.   Stunningly, the standards make no mention of the Pilgrims.  Instead, attention is focused on people “forced to relocate to the colonies.”  (§  Students are asked to describe the indigenous peoples before European colonization (§, and then “analyze the consequences of early interactions between Europeans and indigenous nations.”  (§  This is followed by a requirement that students analyze the impacts of colonial government on “enslaved populations.”  (§  Students then study “the exploitation of enslaved people” (§, “the development of non-free labor systems,” and “the experiences of enslaved peoples.”  (§  It gets worse.


The next historical section is called “Revolution and the New Nation, 1754 – 1800.”  One would expect students to learn about America’s early leaders and why they gave their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to win independence from the tyranny of Great Britain.  Not so (likely because they are old, dead white men.)  Instead, students “evaluate the impact of the Revolutionary War on individuals, communities, and institutions in North America.”  (§  No mention is made of Britain’s Declaratory Act of 1766, which is considered “the line in the sand” that caused the colonial leaders to consider independence, the concept of taxation without representation, the Boston Tea Party, or other actual and important historical events.


The next section titled “the foundation of the United States government and nation” finally introduces students to our founding documents and specifically names the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (§  No mention is made of “self-evident truths,” or “inalienable rights,” let alone the same being endowed by our creator.  No mention is made of the Articles of Confederation and why they didn’t work, of the founding fathers, or any of the first ten amendments collectively known as the Bill of Rights.  No mention is made of the Constitutional Convention, the ratification conventions, the Federalist Papers, and how we have in existence more than 15,000 original documents and writings from these conventions to facilitate the determination of original intent.  (Surprise – not – there is also no mention of original intent.)  Absent complete and accurate information, students will not be able to accurately “analyze the impact of early documents…on the development of the government of the United States.”  (§


Students then move forward to “Expansion and Reform, 1792 – 1861,” where they study westward movement and resulting conflicts “focusing on the dispossession of indigenous land and the impact on indigenous nations.”  (§  This might be expected in a liberal college class entitled “Indigenous Studies about Evil White Supressionism,” but not in a class to be taught to all public high school students in Minnesota.


Students then skip several major wars, including the Barbery Wars (which is why Thomas Jefferson had a Koran in his library – he wanted to understand the Muslim pirates, contrary to Congressman Keith Ellison’s attempted revisionism that Jefferson had an affinity for Islam), the War of 1812 (during which Francis Scott Keys wrote our national anthem), the War of Texas’ Independence (students will never “Remember the Alamo” if they never learn of it), or the Mexican-American War (where Mexico and the United States agreed on the boundary between the countries).  Students study the Civil War (discussed below), but then skip World War I.  The course should more accurately be called “Select portions of U.S. History.”


The next time period is “Civil War and Reconstruction 1850 – 1877.”  I applaud the commission for having students “analyze the debates over state’s rights, popular sovereignty, and political compromise,” (§  This is followed by an assignment to “describe significant individuals, communities, and institutions instrumental in the Civil War Era” (§, which is the first time students learn about important individuals in our nation’s history.


Students then move to “The Development of an Industrial, Urban, and Global United States, 1870 – 1920.”  This seems appropriate until one sees that students are to “analyze the impact of westward movement on individuals, communities, and institutions,” (§, and then examine America’s imperialism (§  Students then analyze American Indian Policy, and the “impact on indigenous nations” (§, followed by “the establishment of labor unions.”  (§  The liberal bias is very evident, especially in light of the noticeable absence of the concepts of rugged individualism and American exceptionalism.


Students then learn about racial segregation (§, disenfranchisement, growth of racial violence, and the debates about how to achieve freedom and equality.”   (§  This liberal vein continues to flow as students next “evaluate the effectiveness of the political responses to the problems of industrialization, capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption.”  (§  Capitalism is the cornerstone of the freest nation in the world, and the reason immigrants come to America by the millions, both legally and illegally.

Students learn nothing about World War I, and move directly to the Great Depression.  Significant discussion could take place here regarding economic policies that caused and contributed to the great depression and its duration.  Instead, straight out of left field, students “examine the contributions of individuals and communities in relation to the art, literature, and music of the period.”  (§

Students also “analyze how the New Deal addressed the struggles of the Great Depression and how it transformed the role of government.”  (§  There are two opposing schools of thought relating to the New Deal, one of which holds that the unconstitutional government-expanding legislation comprising the “New Deal” prolonged and worsened the depression.  Ample opportunity exists to show that policies that are being implemented today were tried in the past, and failed miserably.  Students need to be able to learn from mistakes of the past.

Students then study World War II.  One would hope that they would learn about the aggression of the Axis forces, culminating in the Pearl Harbor attack that launched America into World War II.  Instead, students discuss “the factors that led to choosing a side for war.”  Choosing a side?  Like our leaders considered joining Hitler in his goal to exterminate the Jewish people?  I don’t think so.  This politically correct but historically questionable discussion of World War II would not be complete without a discussion of “its impact on the role of women and disenfranchised communities in America.”  (§


Students then learn about “Post World War II United States,” which includes a study of “political ideologies,” where students are asked to “explain how these differences contributed to the development of the Cold War.”  (§  Fortunately, students are taught about actions taken by the United States “to resist the spread of Communism.”  (§  (Notably, Hitler also spoke out against Communists – students will not likely learn about the evils and millions of deaths caused by Marxism and totalitarianism.)

Students then move into the Vietnam War era, a highly turbulent time in American history.  Room exists for much mischief in the teaching as students “analyze the cause and effect of the domestic response to the Vietnam War.”  (§

Students them move into the Civil Rights era, complete with a requirement that they “analyze” different movements including African American, Native American, Women, Latino American, and Counter Culture.  (§  Students must also “understand the changes in American Indian policy” and “analyze its impact on indigenous nations.”  (§  My guess would be that there would be inadequate coverage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based upon sex and race.  I would also surmise that no mention would be made that it was the Republican party that fought for civil rights for all, the Democratic party that fought against such rights, and that civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.


As a homeschooling parent who evaluates curriculum before I purchase it for my children, I would reject this course in its entirety on the basis of it being inaccurate, incomplete, and biased far to the left.  I encourage everyone reading this to make your voices heard and submit comments here to the Minnesota Department of Education as well as to your legislators (House and Senate) to support the legislation currently in the House Education Finance Omnibus bill (HF 934) that delays the review and implementation of the social studies standards for another year.and requires legislative approval.

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