Browsing articles in "State Education"
Dec 25, 2012

Social Studies Standards Hearing Report

Many thanks to all who were able to give oral testimony at the December 20th social studies standards hearing. The large hearing room at the Minnesota Department of Education building was nearly full.  The vast majority of testifiers were overwhelmingly opposed to the new standards.  Witnesses were armed with facts and passionate eloquence.  Department officials seemed surprised and a little dismayed at the level, intensity and detail of the opposition. Although we do not have all the testimony that was presented, we were able to obtain some of it from those that graciously provided it. See below for links and quotes from some of this excellent testimony.  In addition, negative comments about the standards are coming in from several important groups and individuals.  The judge has granted the full 20 days period for written comments, meaning the record will close on January 9th.  Details for submitting written comments may be found here. If you cannot do written comments, we will have more information about a petition just after Christmas. Thank you for your support!  May all of the joys and blessings of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year come to you and yours.

Witnesses against the standards included parents, grandparents, business owners, a former citizen of communist Poland, two college professors, a former AP biology teacher, and two legislators.  Education Liberty Watch’s testimony was delivered by attorney Marjorie Holsten.

In addition, there have been important comments from the Minnesota House Republican leadership,  new commentary from Dr. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute as we previously mentioned, and important testimony from the American Principles Project about the link of these social studies  to the Common Core English standards. All of these are also quoted and linked below.

As witnessed by the length of time it has taken to get out this report, we know it is very busy this time of year. To that end, we hope to introduce some sort of petition mechanism to help you weigh in against these awful standards and still spend this important time with your family and friends.  More news will be forthcoming.

Finally, we do know that it is a busy time of year and this is a bad economy, but there are monetary costs to the work that we do.  Any tax deductible financial help that can be directed to Education Liberty Watch as you consider your year end giving so that we may continue to stand for academic excellence, perpetuating our republic and protecting the rights of parents to raise their children would be most appreciated.


Education Liberty Watch Prepared Oral Testimony Delivered by Marjorie Holsten 

“Based on the forgoing as well as the more detailed information we will submit, we believe that for the sake of academic rigor, the cultural literacy and ability of Minnesota students to function as citizens able to maintain the freedoms of our republic, the fulfillment of legislative intent, and state autonomy, that these standards should be rejected or at least significantly modified and that the 2004 standards should be kept until that happens. Thank you.”  

Remarks Prepared for Oral Testimony of Representative-Elect Cindy Pugh

“Finally as a newly elected legislator about to be sworn in for the first time, it pains me to see violations of legislative intent, as well as how state sovereignty is being violated in education both by the mandates of No Child Left Behind and the creeping imposition of a national curriculum via the linking of the Common Core English standards to the social studies standards.”

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Dec 24, 2012

Prepared Social Studies Standards Hearing Testimony of Carter Glendenning

Submitted by Carter H Glendenning, World traveler, Sr Citizen. Grandfather

Subject: Change to the Mn Social Studies Standards that are to begin 2013.

Dated: Dec 20, 2012

Thank you Judge Neilson for allowing me time to speak on this important topic.

This country was founded on Liberty for all i.e. Freedom, American Exceptionalism, Liberty & Religious tolerance.

Going right to the point, elimination is needed of the repeated theme of “American Conquest of indigenous people, ethnic divisions, slavery, territorial expansion and the institutionalization of racism, ethnic & class conflict” [reference page 85 & 94 of Sonar] —- These themes are a constant thru out the grades beginning in the early grades.

This drags down the entire curriculum & will turn off the students from learning. These young people will think less of themselves -kinda like this thing called ‘white guilt’. Kids are people, people shy away from such negativism. I have spent a goodly amount of time in other countries both living and working. No other country that I know has its educational system so down on its country. Perhaps that is because we are a free people. But, compared to the other countries you cite in these documents, does this document represent a level playing field? No.

This country was founded on liberty including religion. Most all the early writings of this country –from the 1600’s thru the writings of Ronald Reagan have a salute to the Almighty & thanking him. This document is written as though there is no religion, but there is! Whenever tragedy comes, the first things American people do is go to church. This document is in denial. I would expect this document to be written in Russia in the 1920’s, not here.

While talking of the struggles of the women here and around the world, there is no mention of the whipping, stoning, beating & isolation given women by men in the Islamic world as well as in America as they follow their Sharia law.

Regarding the former black slaves, and American Indians, this document emphasizes how bad we were, but says nothing of our help, giving both financially and of our love & time.

I received an email on Tuesday, from Dr Dennis Peterson, Supt of Mtka School system saying that there is too much of a rush to implement these standards, meaning that we need to balance what today’s thinking is vs. those of yesterday’s history. Remember History is the great TEACHER.

Keep in mind, if America was not such a good country, people would not be waiting for years to get in, sneaking across borders, etc. Securing inherent rights has made America the freest, most prosperous, and most generous nation in the history world. Yet 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, wrongs done to indigenous people.

It concerns me that one of your main witness’ for this document [Dr Beth Aune], heads up her church’s Social Justice Council.  I would have hoped that a more neutral person would be involved and I suggest that she [Dr Aune] recluse herself from all future proceedings.

Some  University of Mn Professors held a Nat’l conference on Social Justice in Bloomington, approx 2 years ago. It was held to amplify something they called “white privilege” OR as a local newspaper columnist called “white guilt”. The story line was white males have been taking advantage of indigenous people, blacks and women. Does that sound familiar. For those historians, Social Justice comes from the time of & philosophy Karl Marx.

I suggest we maintain the current standards, and begin working on a document that extols the virtues of America

Thank you for your kind consideration

Dec 24, 2012

Prepared Social Studies Standards Hearing Testimony of Representative-Elect Cindy Pugh

Good Morning.  My name is Cindy Pugh and I’m speaking today as a concerned citizen.

Thank you Judge Nielson for this opportunity to testify today to express my concerns about the new academic social studies standards before you. My concerns come from several sources.

First, as a mother who is deeply concerned about the future of my children and those of this state and nation, it is very disturbing to me to see the loss of academic rigor and cultural literacy when comparing the 2004 version of these standards to the 2011 version.  There seems to be a loss of historically important people and events from a wide diversity of races, ethnicities, cultures and political viewpoints.  These vary from Ronald Reagan to Martin Luther King to Mao Zedong or from the Cold War to Western Civilization. Opposition to these standards emanates from groups with a wide variation of political thought, from Education Liberty Watch to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Secondly, as a co-founder of the Southwest Metro Tea Party concerned about fidelity to the Constitution and fiscal responsibility, I am alarmed to see the lack of clarity in teaching foundational principles, such as that of government’s role to protect the foundational and unalienable rights of life, liberty and property and other important concepts, the understanding of which is crucial for students growing into citizens that can and will maintain our republic.  I also believe that knowledge of economics and how to recognize when there is too much government interference in the economy is very important as well.

Finally as a newly elected legislator about to be sworn in for the first time, it pains me to see violations of legislative intent, as well as how state sovereignty is being violated in education both by the mandates of No Child Left Behind and the creeping imposition of a national curriculum via the linking of the Common Core English standards to the social studies standards.

I’d like to end with two quotes which have informed my thoughts and passion for this issue.  The first is by James Madison: “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”  The second is by George Washington: “A primary object…should be the education of our youth in the science of government.  In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing…than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”

I agree with many of the other testifiers here today that these standards should either be rejected in their entirety or at least substantially modified with the 2004 standards kept in place unless or until one of those things should happen.

Thank you for your time.

[Note: This post has been updated to reflect some additions that Representative-elect Pugh made at the hearing]

Dec 24, 2012

Written Testimony of American Principles in Action



American Principles in Action (APIA) and its sister organization, American Principles Project, are organizations that work to restore America’s founding principles as embodied in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. APIA is concerned that the Minnesota Department of Education’s Proposed Permanent Rules Relating to Social Studies Academic Standards advance an unconstitutional and illegal scheme by which the federal government seeks to establish control over public-school curriculum nationwide.

Minnesota officials decided in 2010 to adopt the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). CCSSI is an initiative controlled by the federal government and private interests in Washington, DC, and designed to impose national K-12 standards in ELA and mathematics. By adopting CCSSI’s ELA standards, Minnesota has become part of a scheme that violates three federal statutes prohibiting federal supervision, direction, or control of school curricula.

Robert S. Eitel and Kent D. Talbert, former deputy general counsel and general counsel, respectively, of the U.S. Department of Education, have concluded that CCSSI (which includes national standards and aligned assessments) “will ultimately direct the course of elementary and secondary study in most states across the nation, running the risk that states will become little more than administrative agents for a nationalized K-12 program of instruction and raising a fundamental question about whether the Department is exceeding its statutory boundaries.” The General Education Provisions Act prohibits the Department from “exercise[ing] any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel” of any school. Similar prohibitions exist in the Department of Education Organization Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. As noted by Eitel and Talbert, “[s]tandards drive curriculum, programs of instruction, and the selection of instructional materials. A change to common K-12 standards will inevitably result” in changes to all these elements to align with the standards. The bottom line: CCSSI standards will ultimately dictate curricula, in violation of three federal statutes.

Nor will this effect on curriculum be limited to the English language arts and mathematics curricula. CCSSI’s ELA standards include a raft of standards labeled “literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects.”  Through these “literacy” standards, CCSSI will control or at least influence the curricula in other subject areas.  Thus, the original transgression of imposing national standards and, ultimately, a national curriculum in ELA, is compounded by the ELA standards’ effect on these other areas.

This is what is happening through the Minnesota Department of Education’s proposed social studies standards.  Noting that some of the proposed standards might duplicate the ELA “literacy” standards, especially those relating to accuracy, bias, and relevancy of information, the Department of Education drafting committee carefully considered how the revised social studies standards would complement, but not duplicate, the 2010 [CCSSI] English language arts standards. Literacy skills play a fundamental role in social studies education as students tackle numerous complex reading, writing and research projects. The 2011 social studies standards build upon, but do not duplicate, these               foundational literacy skills.”

The Department of Education then lists three ELA standards and one proposed history standard to illustrate the “complementary” nature of the two sets of standards. The Department of Education’s deferral to the ELA standards (with their contribution to an unlawful federally controlled curriculum in English language arts) will mean that this unlawful federal control will bleed into Minnesota’s social studies standards as well.

The creators and proponents of CCSSI assured skeptical states from the beginning that the Common Core standards are only for ELA and mathematics. Indeed, many states signed on to CCSSI with that understanding, and with the belief that they would still be able to control their own standards in other subject areas. The proposed Minnesota social standards illustrate the folly of that belief. Just as the decision to adopt CCSSI ELA standards is now influencing social studies, it will inevitably affect science and other subjects in the future. If these social studies standards are adopted, Minnesota will be more inextricably entangled in the unlawful federally controlled curriculum. For this reason, APIA urges the Department of Education to revisit these proposed standards to respect the rights of Minnesota parents and local officials to exercise full control over their social studies standards.