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House Gives up Ground on Social Studies Standards
See the Roll Call Vote

March 20, 2004

In a disappointing vote on the floor of the House Thursday, the Republican House leadership defeated an effort to reverse the changes that had been made to the "3rd draft" of the social studies standards. The Buesgens amendment would have restored the parts of the standards that had been undermined in the "behind closed door" revisions last month.

The defeat of the Buesgens amendment left many observers pessimistic about the Republican leaders' commitment to a final set of social studies standards that promote and preserve our founding principles.

"There was no good reason to compromise their position on these standards before going into conference committee negotiations," commented Michael Chapman, board member of EdWatch. "Bargaining should always begin from the strongest position possible. The substantive changes in the 'third draft' diluted the citizen standards, and it makes people wonder why."

The "3rd draft" had made changes to the social studies standards that:

Materials presented last week to every House Member itemized how the 3rd draft changes moved the standards in the direction of being process-based and toward undermining our founding principles. Efforts to gather support for the Buesgens amendment, however, fell far short, following a private Republican caucus meeting just before the vote.

Rep. Barb Sykora, author of the standards bill and the force behind the 3rd draft, aggressively defended the 3rd draft changes. As Chair of the Education Committee and the one who will be leading the House conference committee negotiations, and with full support from Speaker Sviggum, over half of the Republican caucus backed away from the Buesgens amendment.

With the DFL voting as a block against the amendment, passage would have required most Republican votes. Out of 79 Republicans present, only 32 voted to support it.

See the Roll Call Vote

Please thank the members who supported the Buesgens amendment.

There was some good news. The amendment to include the full range of scientific controversy over evolution in the science standards passed by a nearly two to one margin. Nine DFL members joined all but two Republicans to pass that amendment 86 to 45. Please thank these members for their support.

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