Browsing articles in "State Education"
Dec 1, 2012

Social Studies Hearing Request of Dr. Ryan MacPherson

30 November 2012
Kerstin Forsythe Hahn
Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113


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.

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Nov 21, 2012

Celebrate Thanksgiving by Preserving Good Social Studies Standards – Request a Hearing!

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 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:
  1. A statement requesting a hearing on the proposed rules;
  2. Name and address; and
  3. 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.

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.

U.S. History:

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

World History

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!!

Nov 14, 2012

Please Help Change Minnesota’s Social Studies Standards for the Good

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch

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:

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: Phone (for questions):phone: 651-582-8583. TTY users may call the Department of Education at 651-582-8201.[Please forward a copy to 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.
Oct 2, 2012

Education Liberty Watch Introduces New Freedom Grading Scale for Private School Choice Laws

The concept of trying to rescue poor and minority students from failing public schools is a noble one.  However, if the private schools are forced to teach the public school standards, which are at grave risk of becoming nationalized via the Common Core and its accompanying tests in 45-1/2 states and the District of Columbia (Minnesota accepted the English standards but not the math), in order for their students to pass the state tests, private schools will no longer be a meaningful alternative to the public schools.

This danger was detailed in our 2011 alert Imposing a Federal Curriculum on Private Schools – Why Voucher Programs that Require State Tests Are So Dangerous. At that time, we mentioned Minnesota’s proposed law that has not yet passed (that would have received a D grade on our scale) and Indiana’s enacted law (that did receive an F grade) that both require state tests to be given to private school students receiving vouchers or to the entire private school.  Since then, I have reviewed the testing accountability requirements for all of the 30 school choice laws that have passed in 18 states and the District of Columbia through 2012 based on the Alliance for School Choice’s annual report  and looking at the  newest 2012 laws passed since that report was written.

And, since grading scales are becoming de rigeur, I though that Education Liberty Watch should join in on the trend and provide a freedom grading scale based on how well each statute protects private school autonomy.  My hope is that you will see where your state falls and contact your policymakers to either improve your own state law if needed, make sure that any school choice bill offered in your state is as strongly pro-freedom as possible, and if nothing else, warn the private schools in your area what may be coming and urge them to speak up as this type of legislation is considered.

Before the table with the grades is presented however, it is important to also mention the education plan of presidential candidate Mitt Romney on this issue.  Thankfully his plan is a just a plan right now that was likely mostly written  or at least heavily influenced by former Governor Jeb Bush.  Mr. Bush, whose organization is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation, is a huge fan of the Common Core to the point of trying to prevent model legislation against the standards from being supported by ALEC. He also seems to be completely tied in with the corporate interests such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Partnership and the Gates Foundation, which has funded his own organization, that seem not at all concerned or even determined to bring about the usurpation of private school curriculum with the national standards. The Romney plan, A Chance for Every Child, speaks of the federal government promoting and paying for both public and private school choice.  It says on pages 23-24:

Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA so that low-income and special-needs students can choose which school to attend and bring their funding with them. The choices offered to students under this policy will include any district or public charter school in the state, as well as private schools if permitted by state law… To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. (Emphasis added.)

Aside from the fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in education, a fact both parties have completely forgotten, this would be an utter disaster for education freedom.  It would bring the full force of the federal government to impose the federal curriculum of the Common Core on private and religious schools.  It would also negate the laboratories of democracy in the states that have passed good state laws that do not require this public school testing accountability.  On Education Liberty Watch’s Freedom Grading Scale, the Romney education plan, as currently written, would receive a D grade for requiring students to participate in the state tests.  If the plan is meant to require that all of the students in a private school attended by voucher recipients take the state (Common Core) tests, we would give it a failing grade.

However, the good news is that Governor Romney has recently made some important and very good statements opposing the Common Core and government expansion of preschool, which we will outline in our next alert. It is therefore hoped that the more pro-freedom members of his education team are beginning to hold sway and that Governor Romney can be educated about the perils to private schools in his plan.

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