Monday, March 29, 2004

Bait and switch standards 

Late last week the Senate Education committee approved an alternative set of standards. Opponents of the citizens' standards are gleeful, which ought to tell you enough to know something wicked this way comes. The MAPSSSters suggest that the battle over the competing standards will wait for Senator Kelley's witch hunt confirmation hearings over Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, scheduled to begin Thursday. I've already discussed the problematic economics standards. There are some other issues as well. At eighty pages, the length of the alternative standards doesn't address one of the opponents major concerns, but consistency isn't a long suit for these people. The Minnesota Council for the Social Studies now supports these standards, whereas last week it appeared they were promulgating a different set. I am waiting for them to show how these alternative standards even meet the position they took on March 4th. I rather think they simply signed on to these as directed by Education Minne$ota.

The MAPSSSters say the citizens' standards in second draft ignored a majority of the comments. Here's what the citizens did to respond, and here are all the comments. If a majority of the comments are idiotic, I hope they are ignored. (What, you say? None of them are idiots? Really?)

The committee's Republican minority, it seems, is wise to what's up here:

But Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, attacked the new requirements as an almost mysterious document, appearing suddenly without giving committee members enough time to carefully consider them.

"Who really is the author of these standards?" he said. "I don't see how we can proceed adopting these on the basis of these circumstances." While he barely had time to go over the new proposed standards, Hann said, he noted that the House version was devised by a citizens committee last year in a public process, and that thousands of people either testified for or against those standards, or sent in comments about them. Plus, Hann noted that the heft of the Senate standards seemed similar to that of the House's version.

"They certainly don't pass the test of being less burdensome," he said.
Nor less ideological. I won't go into detail just yet, but get a gander at page 31 of the secret standards. And recall that while MCSS is saying they are supporting these standards, they did not write them. This was done by professors at the University of Minnesota. Kathy Kersten analyzed these people long ago.
What would our children's history classrooms look like if the "U" professors, and like-minded critics, got their way? One thing's sure: Every day, our kids would walk out of class hanging their heads for shame at being Americans. The professors' letter makes clear that they see America -- first and foremost -- as a nation that has oppressed women, enslaved blacks and exploited the poor. They want our children to see it that way, too. That's why their letter is full of recommendations like this: When Minnesota 8- and 9-year-olds study colonial America, they should focus on "the genocidal impact of European incursions," the extinction of numerous species and the destruction of whole environments." When third-graders study the Pledge of Allegiance, they should learn that its author was "forced by the political climate of Jim Crow and xenophobia" to omit the mention of equality, along with liberty and justice.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you page 27. At least they wait until high school.