30 November 2012
Kerstin Forsythe Hahn
Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR A HEARING CONCERNING THE
PROPOSED MINNESOTA K-12 ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN SOCIAL STUDIES
Dear Ms. Hahn:
I respectfully request a hearing concerning the proposed Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies 2011 (Rule-Making Draft, February 17, 2012). As requested in the notice of hearing, my name and address are provided above. I oppose the entire set of rules as they are presently drafted, with most of my concerns relating to the Subpart 1: Citizenship and
Government and Subpart 4: History; I desire that the 2004 rules be retained unless and until the 2011 proposal is amended.
As a college professor who instructs students pursuing Minnesota licensure for elementary and secondary education, I am concerned that the 2011 proposal will not adequately ensure that K-12 schools meet the stated objectives of preparing the rising generation for citizenship, higher education, and employment. My specialty is American history, including constitutional law. I am alarmed that the 2011 proposal removes references to the natural, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property and that the 2011 proposal also loses the emphasis, present in the 2004 rules, that it is government’s chief purpose to secure these natural rights. The 2004 rules, attentive to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, included these fundamental principles in multiple Benchmarks and Examples. To consider another example, the 2011 proposal also entirely removes all references to Abraham Lincoln and to his Gettysburg address, topics which appeared in multiple required Benchmarks in the 2004 rules. Not only will high school graduates be under-prepared for American civic life without an understanding of these important aspects of our national heritage, but they also will be ill equipped for college coursework.
The nation is approaching the Thanksgiving holiday and the chance to reflect upon and give thanks for the many blessings and liberties that we still have and for which so many have sacrificed. Education Liberty Watch believes that one very appropriate way to celebrate is to preserve the teaching of the American heritage and American exceptionalism by requesting a hearing for the very flawed social studies standards discussed in our last alert.. Many thanks to those that have already sent in requests. We are making good progress but need a few more to be able to have a hearing. Here are the requirements and a few reminders for a hearing request:
- Hearing requests must be sent to Kerstin.firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:30 PM CST on Friday, November 30, 2012.
- According to the Department of Education, to be considered valid, a request must contain the following three elements:
- A statement requesting a hearing on the proposed rules;
- Name and address; and
- A statement that you either 1) object to the rule in its entirety or 2) what specific parts/sections of the rule you object to. If you have any recommendations or suggestions please include those as well.
- The standards are available here for review. The standards with the benchmarks and examples are available here. Only standards and benchmarks are taught and tested. Examples are not.
- If possible, please forward or blind copy your email to email@example.com so that we may keep a count. Please do not include any other email addresses in the note to the Depart of Education.
- You do not have to be a Minnesota resident or attend the hearing to request one.
Here are a few reasons to oppose the standards that you may incorporate into your hearing request or use in your comments if you choose:
Overall lack of rigor with an emphasis on content free skills instead of teaching the content necessary to perform the skills Association with the Common Core English standards that have been reviewed to be only 6th to 8th grade level for the supposedly “college ready” high school standards
The word liberty is not mentioned as an unalienable right or in the context of the sacrifices made in its defense.
There is very little discussion of religion of any kind, either as the right of religious freedom and how it was a major animating factor for the American Founding or as a source of motivation/conflict in World History except for Native Americans..
Securing inherent rights has made the America the freest, most prosperous, and most generous nation in the history of the world. Yet the concept of American exceptionalism is completely absent from these standards. Instead, 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.
Failure to contrast God-given unalienable rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence and implemented in the Constitution with man or government-given rights as found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Failure to list or describe all of the 1st amendment rights, especially religion, except in the untested examples
No mentions, even in the examples, of patriotism
Failure to properly contrast the deprivation, failure, and death associated with communism compared to the benefits of capitalism and free markets.
The standards are too neutral regarding the failure of government over-regulation
There is too much emphasis on human geography without adequate study of physical geography.
There are numerous examples of omissions of major people and events and bias, almost too numerous to mention
The alleged “institutional racism” of America is discussed at the standards level, but important liberty principles or positive events are mentioned either as untested examples or mentioned in the benchmarks, if at all.
American exceptionalism and the contributions that America has made in liberating millions of people from tyranny are not mentioned
The important contributions of Western Civilization are greatly minimized
Important topics like the Global War on Terror and the evils of communism are barely mentioned, if at all.
The long-standing dating convention of BC/AD is replaced by BCE/CE to remove reference to the most important historical figure of all time.
Any contribution that you can make on this front is incredibly appreciated. THANK YOU!!
The Minnesota Department of Education is about to complete the “extreme makeover social studies standards edition” process of the well rated 2004 version. Instead of following the law which says to “revise and align” the standards, there has been a top to bottom rewriting with alarming changes in emphasis. This process began in 2011 and we have endeavored to keep you informed:
- Comments Submitted for Final Draft of Minnesota Social Studies Standards
- Comments on US History Standards from an Attorney and Teacher of the Constitution
- National Association of Scholars Review of MN Social Studies Standards
- John Fonte Review of Minnesota Social Studies Standards
- Southern Poverty Law Center Review
- Please Comment!! Social Studies Standards Continue Disastrous Course in Final Draft!
- Alert! New PC Social Studies Standards are a Disaster!!
The 2011 version, (official rule version available here and standards with benchmarks available here), is about to be put into permanent rule. The only way to have a hope of any more influence on the final outcome is for at least 25 people to request a hearing by November 30, 2012. The actual hearing itself is scheduled for December 20th but will be cancelled if there are not enough requests.
The full details to request a hearing and or to comment on the standards are contained in the Dual Use notice. Here are the important highlights:
- What:Request a public hearing before the social studies standards are cemented into rule and submit comments on the social studies standards.
Deadline: 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2012
- Hearing Time, Date, & Location if 25 Requests Received: 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012 in room CC-15, Minnesota Department of Education, 1500 Highway 36 West, Roseville, Minnesota, 55113
- Submit Hearing requests to: Kerstin Forsythe Hahn at the Department of Education, 1500 Highway 36 West, Roseville, Minnesota, 55113, email: Kerstin.firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone (for questions):phone: 651-582-8583. TTY users may call the Department of Education at 651-582-8201.[Please forward a copy to email@example.com so that we may know if there are enough requests for a hearing. Also after discussions with the administrative law judge, the agency contact, and MN Senate staff, there is no requirement that hearing requests be from Minnesota residents exclusively.]
- Parameters for Hearing Request: “You must make your request for a public hearing in writing, which the agency contact person must receive by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2012. You must include your name and address in your written request. In addition, you must identify the portion of the proposed rules that you object to or state that you oppose the entire set of rules. Any request that does not comply with these requirements is not valid and the agency cannot count it when determining whether it must hold a public hearing. You are also encouraged to state the reason for the request and any changes you want made to the proposed rules.” NOTE: PLEASE at a minimum, request a hearing and whether you oppose all of the standards or a certain part along with your name and address all in writing. You do not need to be a Minnesota resident to do this.
- Parameters for Comment Submission: “You are encouraged to propose any change that you desire. You must also make any comments about the legality of the proposed rules during this comment period. You have until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2012, to submit written comment in support of or in opposition to the proposed rules or any part or subpart of the rules. Your comment must be in writing and received by the agency contact person by the due date.Comments are encouraged. Your comments should identify the portion of the proposed rules addressed, the reason for the comment, and any change proposed.” NOTE: If, after you have requested a hearing, you want to submit comments, please do so. You do not have to submit extensive comments on every single standard and benchmark. You may certainly choose as few as one standard in one grade level in one subject, but PLEASE do something.
The following statement has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
The philosophy of education in one generation becomes the philosophy of of government in the next.
Although education continues to be overshadowed by the economy and lately by foreign affairs such as the Benghazi debacle, it has still been discussed in the presidential campaign. The candidates discussed the federal role in education including the Common Core Standards and financing in the first debate, which I outlined in our last alert. And never has there been a more distinct contrast between the philosophies of education between the two presidential candidates.
President Obama’s approach has been unwaveringly towards big government solutions. He has consistently been in favor of more federal control and spending from cradle to college, as well as hiring more teachers and expanding federal data gathering. His administration has relentlessly pursued national standards in both preschool and K-12 via the Race to the Top grant programs as well as the No Child Left Behind waivers. As a result he is very close to achieving federalization of curriculum, because 46-1/2 states and the District of Columbia have adopted these standards. Nine states have federalized their preschool standards and put in place early childhood quality rating systems that will control private and religious programs as well. The administration has also increased Head Start spending despite numerous studies, including one in 2010, showing it to be a failure and GAO evidence of fraud in the program’s administration.
Governor Romney, on the other hand, except for being less forthright than he needs to be about the absolute necessity of cutting federal education spending has spoken consistently about decreasing the federal role in education. He has specifically stated that it is not the role of the federal government to promote national standards.
Most importantly, Mitt Romney has spoken of the critical importance of families and parents in the education of children, especially young children. These statements are like water in the desert for families and groups that want to see power and freedom returned to families and locally elected school boards to make education decisions.
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