Friday, January 30, 2004

A witness to sausagemaking 

Minnesota Education Reform News has been keeping notes on the social science reform hearings. Of my own three minutes of suckitude he writes that I "provided a lively testimony in favor of the standards in general and economics education specifically." That's far too generous; I enjoyed myself, but that elevated horseshoe at which the representatives sat felt like I was facing court-martial before Starfleet. Anyway, here's what I put into testimony. Fellow letter signer Jim Tracy was a much smoother cucumber in his turn.

A couple of other observations. The social science minority report, presented by a disgruntled group of public school teachers, started out well with concern over the amount of material covered. But their suggestion to send this draft back to a whole new committee seemed to me like they were still mad they had lost the battle on the Profiles of Learning (our previous educational standards which were repealed last May.) One of the teachers spent his time trashing private and charter school teachers and homeschoolers as over-represented and not worthy of a place on the committee because they don't have to follow these standards. (This is the same chap who complained on MERN that he was misrepresented in his slam on another presenter's school's debate team.) When pressed on specifics, they refused -- they simply don't want to work with this draft at all.

Our "buddy" Paul had a gift for melodrama. I thought Rep. Jeff Johnson called our pal for what he was. Paul was showing off his "report card" on the new standards (with silly pieces of paper with C, D, and F like the 8, 9, 10 we used to hold up for the NBA Dunk contest). Rep. Johnson asked whether, because his group is called Minnesotans Against the Proposed Social Science Standards, that Paul's grading might display a little bias. Oh no! says our multiculti warrior. "I had an open mind. I waited and didn't comment when the revisions came out. I read them first. I don't even really want to be here today." There were a few eyes rolling over that one. This is also bull, since he called in to this NPR program (in RealAnnoyingPopupAudio, go in about 19.5 minutes) by December 22nd to criticize the standards, so he gave them less than a week's review to go back on the attack. It's worth remembering that his petition was given over on the 15th, and the second draft came out on the 19th. Was he really going to go away a week after delivering his petition? No. Will they offer any realistic alternative? No.