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"'They have focused like a laser,' said Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, the House majority whip and an early Profile opponent. House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, credits the coalition [MREdCo] with publicizing the issue and with helping to make it a 'defining issue' for Republican conservatives."
Wednesday's Capitol Lobby Day to repeal Minnesota's Profile of Learning was an incredible day. By 9:00 a.m. about 300 people had streamed into the Capitol rotunda in St. Paul to hear speakers, to organize themselves by their legislative districts and to get materials and directions for meeting and talking with their own legislators. It was the 2nd day of the 2003 legislative session.
"We got your message," said Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum, as he addressed the cheering crowd. The 2002 elections ushered in a wave of new lawmakers, the majority elected on promises to repeal the Profile. The Profile of Learning was mandated on all schools in 1998 in compliance with the federal requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1994 and Goals 2000. Governor Pawlenty gained the Republican endorsement and campaigned promising to repeal the Profile.
Sviggum announced that H.F. 2 to repeal the Profile of Learning would be introduced on Thursday. And so it was. A full slate of co-authors have signed on.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press gave Lobby Day front page, above the fold, color picture coverage. TV media were there, as were MNN News, public radio, and various outstate media outlets.
From the Pioneer Press:
"Many citizens and advocacy groups will walk into the Capitol during the next few months hoping to influence the course of lawmaking; few will emerge with the clout of the Maple River Education Coalition. The group's techniques and tenacity provide a primer of sorts for aspiring citizen advocates."
Senator Michele Bachmann spoke:
"'Go and beat on the door of every senator, every legislator,' Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, told the Profile foes. Bachmann credits her two election victories to anti-Profile activism. Waving well-worn copies of federal and state education regulations, she said the new standards have turned 'the finest education system in the world over to the federal government.'"
"'We're going to be as tenacious as a bulldog on the back end of somebody's behind,' said Evie Salzman of Cannon Falls as she helped organize troops in the Capitol rotunda."
"'It's more social engineering than actual academics,' said Bob Stapleton of Savage. Gloria Norton of Wyoming, Minn., said she worried that the push for statewide and federal standards has eliminated references to the Christian background of the Founding Fathers in the teaching of history, and has embraced a 'global philosophy' that de-emphasizes U.S. sovereignty."
"'The students in the public schools have been dumbed down,' added Cyndy Bruckbauer of Golden Valley after she visited her state senator, Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins. She said she has taken her two children out of public school and put them in a private Christian school, mainly because she believes public school standards are too low. Several of those attending the rally said their children were in private schools or educated at home.""Karen Effrem of Plymouth, a physician whose two school- aged children attend a private school, said the Profile 'affects everyone,' even families without children in the public system. 'The purpose of education is being changed, from academics and creating citizens . to a focus on attitudes, values, beliefs and minimum entry-level job skills,' she said.
Legislators lined up to be introduced, those agreeing to stand with us to repeal the Profile of Learning. MREdCo's founding President, Renee Doyle, spoke to the enthusiastic group about how momentous this legislative session is.
THE REAL BATTLE
Repeal of the Profile of Learning will be the beginning of the real battle that lies ahead. What will replace the Profile? It is no secret that many would be content to rename the old standards and serve them up as something new with a few cosmetic changes.
H.F. 2, the bill introduced on January 9th to repeal the Profile of Learning, does three things. It repeals the part of the Graduation Rule that pertains to the Profile of Learning. It directs the new Commissioner of Children, Families and Learning to create new "statewide rigorous core academic standards" by April 15th. (The Commissioner must obtain and consider advice from parents, the public, teachers, school board members, post- secondary representatives, nationally recognized experts and the business community.) And it directs the Commissioner to bring those standards back to the legislature for approval.
If the new MN standards are based on the various national education standards -- National Standards on Civics and Government, National U.S. History Standards, math standards from the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, and so on, they will have created the Profile of Learning content with a new name.
The national standards listed above are curriculum with a political agenda. Those standards have politicized the curriculum in our schools.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards that have brought us the fuzzy math. (See update.)
The National Standards on Civics and Government (NSCG) come to us from the Center for Civics Education, and they undermine the principles of natural rights and national sovereignty. The New Federal Curriculum And How It's Enforced
The U.S. History standards were rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1995 on a vote of 99 to 1, as having an anti-American political agenda. "This is wrong, and it threatens us as surely as any foreign power ever has," Bob Dole commented. ("Playing Games With History," Education Week, Vol. 15) They were superficially sanitized and presented as the "new" U.S. History Standards. (McREL "History of the Standards")
On Wednesday, each MN legislator received a copy of the article, "No Child Left Behind: What is it?". It gives a picture of what they are up against in this battle for freedom.
Minnesota has a historic opportunity to create genuine state academic achievement standards and tests that measure knowledge, not politicized content. All students need to be proficient. A system of standards and tests can focus education, however, not on the same outcome for every student, but on opportunities for students to excel to levels of achievement to which they aspire. We need to provide opportunity for our children to compete for the heights of their capabilities. Our standards and our tests need to reflect that goal.
Minnesota is in a position to provide leadership to the nation for what an education system can be. We have a history of high expectations. Minnesota must do what is best for its children.
(H.F. 2 has 35 authors. Other co-authors were not added because their was no more room for additional authors.)********
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