Monday, April 05, 2004

I don't like you, so we're divided 

The battle over Cheri Pierson Yecke's confirmation as MN education commissioner is now delayed until April 13th after a day of hearings. MPR's jaundiced coverage calls her an "extremely polarizing figure". I mean, look at this paragraph:
Gov. Pawlenty appointed Yecke 14 months ago. Since then, she's been a highly visible and extremely polarizing figure. Yecke has taken the most heat over her proposal for new social studies standards. She hand-picked committees of educators and parents to develop the learning requirements.
That's not a quote of someone else; that's Tim Pugmire editorializing under guise of news. And while she received an endorsement from the Minnesota Rural Education Association (what was their representation in the alternative social studies standards, by the way? Check out EdWatch's scorecard), that in itself is unusual. Pugmire at least reports one fact:
The inclusion of testimony from opponents and supporters is an unusual approach for a Senate confirmation hearing. Commissioners typically appear alone for a brief exchange with lawmakers. Yecke says she accepts the fact there are deeply divided opinions about her confirmation.

"Well it seemed that nearly every person who spoke in opposition had problems with the social studies standards," Yecke said. "So, it appears to be that that's driving some discontent."

The opponents are running a smear campaign, including inflammatory comments such as calling Yecke "totally scholastically retarded". Because someone calls her such a name, she's considered "divisive", and that's what passes for political discourse in Minnesota.