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Capitol Report!

March 11, 2004

Capitol Report!

1. Report on Lobby Day at the Capitol -- March 10th
2. Standards on their way to the House floor
3. Supporting the Commissioner

1. Report on Lobby Day at the Capitol -- March 10th

See Lobby Day photos

A good showing of parents and the public were present at the 9:00 a.m. rally. Legislative leaders were there to urge us on, reminding us how much they rely on the good information and research provided by EdWatch and others. We heard from Speaker Sviggum, Rep. Sondra Erickson, Rep. Buesgens, and Sen. Bachmann. Professor James Tracy from the University of Minnesota history department placed his support behind the draft standards. Michael Chapman gave a powerful 10 minute powerpoint presentation in the rotunda, while Senate DFL staff members peered over the balcony to observe.

Julie Quist reviewed the information in the packets that would be delivered to the legislators, calling particular attention to the list of substantive changes that were made to the 3rd draft of the SS standards. Many House members continue to describe the 3rd draft as simply technical or minor changes. Show them how significantly they've been changed! (Find links to all of the materials given to the legislators)

Matt Abe of Minnesota Education Reform News announced his online petition to support the Commissioner's confirmation. EdAction promoted our postcard campaign asking legislators to PASS good social studies and science standards.

"Pass the Standards" buttons were distributed. Individuals teamed up from each district and spread out across the Capitol and State Office Building to visit with their representatives and senators.

The impact and influence those personal visits have on legislators is powerful. They know how difficult it is to come to the Capitol. Legislators are accustomed to paid professional lobbyists. Most of lawmakers genuinely appreciate hearing from their constituents, especially those not looking for a handout. EdWatch activists have no personal agenda. They are there because they have only the welfare of their children, their schools, their state and their nation at heart.

Order your "Postcards to support the standards" from us today.

Send postcards to your legislators asking them to support the social studies standards. Just sign your name, and fill in your return address and your legislator's address (we will provide that address).

They are free, but you can help us defray the cost by making a contribution. Send one to your House member and one to your Senator. Send one to as many of the Education Committee members as you are willing. THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Please be sure your own Representative and Senator HEAR FROM MANY in your area!

2. Standards on their way to the House floor

Last Thursday, the House Education Policy Committee passed the social studies and science standards on to the next House committee. The DFL put up united opposition to the social studies standards. The House committee defeated two amendments that would have either stalled implementation of the proposed social studies standards or dumped them entirely.

The Republicans put up a spirited defense of the open, public process and the citizen committee that wrote the proposed standards when they were criticized. Chief author of the proposed standards bill, Rep. Sykora, rejected the accusation that the process was "top-down," calling that notion, "almost funny."

"These standards are bottom-up!" she vigorously asserted. "These are what people think it's important for students to know. These are good standards. The differences between these and the Profile of Learning are huge!"

The amendment to dump the standards and start all over with a new process to develop different standards was introduced by Rep. Davnie. He proposed establishing an entirely new committee composed of the groups who brought us the Profile of Learning and who resisted its demise to the bitter end. Under the Davnie amendment the federal curriculum would once again be the basis for Minnesota education standards as were the Profile of Learning standards. The amendment failed, though every DFL legislator supported it Watch for the same or a similar proposal to rear its ugly head again in the Senate.

3. Supporting the Commissioner

Support is building to defend the Commissioner against the partisan attack of radicals who don't like the social studies standards. Two petitions to support the Senate confirmation of Commissioner Yecke are up and running:
Minnesota Education Reform News
Print off a hardcopy and collect the signatures
The newest is the Taxpayers League petition.

Other groups and individuals are stepping up to the plate to call on the public to speak out. The attacks on the Commissioner have become mean spirited, unprecedented ploys to gain political advantage. Education radicals are accustomed to overriding the public will. They must not be allowed to succeed.

Here's the latest from opponents of confirmation:
"This week, EdAction and EdWatch have asked their members to call or write their State Senator in favor of confirmation. We MUST counteract these contacts. Please take a few moments and call your state senator and members of the Senate Education Committee and remind them that Minnesota can do better than Ms. Yecke."

We, too, must redouble our own efforts to extend public SUPPORT for the Commissioner. Please don't think that you must agree with every education policy in Minnesota to support confirmation. This entire episode is a smoke screen to undermine passage of the knowledge- based academic standards in Minnesota.

Please call your Senator, the Senate leaders and members of the Senate Education Committee. If you have, do it again, and ask others to join the effort. Send them a postcard or a note in the mail.

Tell them that Commissioner Yecke should be confirmed WITHOUT DELAY! If you ARE the Senator's constituent, say so. If you ARE NOT a constituent, explain that legislative leaders and committee members are making policy for ALL Minnesotans.

Sen. Kelley, Senate Education Committee Chairman e-mail 651-296-8065
Sen. Dean Johnson, Senate Majority Leader e-mail 651-296-3826
Sen. Skoe e-mail 651-296-4196
Sen. Kelley, Senate Education Committee Chairman e-mail 651-296-8660
Sen. Sen. Ranum e-mail 651-297-8061
Sen. Pappas e-mail 651-296-1802
Sen. Tomassoni e-mail 651-296-8017

(P.S. Watch those telephone prefixes closely --296 OR --297) Thank you all for your incredible work. Your involvement means more now than ever before!


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