105 Peavey Rd, Ste 116
Chaska, MN 55318
March 24, 2003
Last Thursday's Senate Education Committee heard two bills called "Repeal of the Profile." One would do precisely that. It is S.F. 60, very much like H.F.2, legislation passed almost unanimously in the House last month. The other, S.F. 639, repeals the Profile, then systematically puts major portions of it back into law, without the name.
Both bills, S. F. 60 and S. F. 639, were "laid over" for action at a later decision. No vote was taken last Thursday.
With a single amendment, Senator Kelley turned his 14 page bill into a 145-page monster -- the Mother-of-all-Profiles. The Commissioner has endured scathing criticisms from Profile advocates for fast tracking new standards' development through a Standards Committee -- to create just two standards: English and math. Sen. Kelley makes the new Standards Committee process look like the pace of a turtle's crawl.
Kelley's S.F. 639 CREATES ALL new standards and shuffles them into six Learning Areas -- in just one bill. How is that possible when the Commissioner strains to create just two before federal deadlines? Easy. He takes them from the Profile. Just tweak them so they are more specific about their "higher order thinking" instead of factual, objective, verifiable knowledge, and he's done. No messy public hearings around the state are necessary in the Kelley version for the public to scrutinize and weigh in.
In a nutshell, here's what Senator Kelley's bill (S.F. 639) does. (The language on the legislative website is NOT the newest 145-page version. To order your own copy of the "new" Kelley Profile state education standards proposal, call his office at 651-297-8065.)
Chief Author, Senator Steve Kelley
1.) Reduces the number of Learning Areas from 11 to 6;
2.) Creates statewide assessments for all 6 Learning Areas;
3.) Puts the statewide assessments (MCAs) on a student's transcript. (Students would not be able to opt out.);
3.) Requires that the state assessments MUST include open ended questions. (This is the open door to questions that do not have one right answer, but rather, probe values and attitudes);
4.) Requires the Commissioner to determine Profile of Learning elements that can be incorporated into the "new" standards;
5.) Requires the Commissioner to propose how to integrate project-type learning and "higher order thinking skills" into the "new" standards;
6.) Encourages the Commissioner to refer to "key understandings" developed by a federal agency (a regional education lab - McREL) when the Profile was being revised.
Other elements of Kelley's bill define how Minnesota will comply with the federal law: Adequate Yearly Progress, failing schools, and so on.
Most of his 145 pages, however, concerns the standards.
Sen. Kelley stated that his bill does not require performance packages. Project-type learning, however, is on every page. Every standard is to be a "demonstration." But these are not the tests; they are the standards. The Kelley bill requires a performance form of instruction, in spite of language in the bill that prohibits "prescribing" a "form of instruction."
Do your students come home with endless busy-work, itemizing tables and graphs, drawing pictures and making models? Do they design Egyptian fashions in place of studying Egyptian government law, literature and conquests? Do you long for a Profile-repeal so that our children will learn history in history class and geography in geography class? Kelley's S.F. 639 will only give you more of the same.
Do you long for real learning instead of diversity training? Don't count on the Kelley bill. In the "Writing and Speaking" Learning Area your kids will be trained in "respectful conversation." (Who's defining "respectful" anyway?) "Respecting individual differences" replaces any mention of right or wrong. "Small group work plans" are required to assure we keep the working in groups focus. Students must "demonstrate" communicating "appropriately" with "different genders and cultures" in the Kelley bill.
Technical writing work skills begin as early as the K - 2 grades and mushroom into a primary focus by high school. A whole section is devoted to interpersonal communication and group planning.
In math, K - 2 students are learning that there are different approaches to addition and subtraction. Calculators, estimating, and "multiple models of the base- ten number system" also begins as early as K - 2.
Diversity training is embedded as the core curriculum in science and social studies standards. Students study "ranges of opinions" on our founding documents, but no requirement exists to teach the founding principles of freedom, or to promote them.
In short, if you want solid academic knowledge to replace the Profile of Learning, you will not be pleased with the Kelley bill. He calls it, however, a repeal.
S.F. 60, on the other hand, sets parameters and a process for developing new academic standards. They must:
"(1) be based on factual, objective, verifiable knowledge in
English, mathematics, science, history and geography;
(2) be clear, concise, measurable and grade-level appropriate;
(3) preserve and promote fundamental American principles stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and other such principles as national sovereignty, natural law, and free-market enterprise;
(4) not mandate a specific teaching methodology nor include work-based learning or other content standards inconsistent with this subdivision."
The Academic Standards Committee will make its final recommendation on March 31st, next week. There will be another Senate hearing, and then one bill will emerge from the Senate Committee. Which one will it be?
Sen. Kelley "refines" the Profile. He's trying to save it. Sen. Kelley is a key member of the DFL Senate Majority team. Once again, the DFL has joined itself at the hip to the radical Profile of Learning. Do they have the votes to pass this, a bill that will surely not pass the House? Would that leave Minnesota with nothing but what we have now? Is the Senate obstructing a real repeal?
You can make a difference by calling your Senator and sharing your opinion.
Come early to the remaining Academic Standards public hearings. One hour early assure you are on the agenda to speak up when the TV cameras are still there. Let your voice be heard:
Tuesday, March 25th
Elk River: Elk River High School
900 School Street
Location: Zabee Theater
Time 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Wednesday, March 26th
Alexandria: Discover Jr. High
510 North McKay
Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Thursday, March 27th
Marshall Sr. High School
401 S Saratoga Street
Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday, March 28th
Mankato East Sr. High School
2600 Hoffman Road
Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
And if you absolutely can't make the hearings, submit
your comments electronically from the Department website.
See a review of the proposed English/Language Arts standards that the Academic Standards Committee has drafted. Let the Standards Committee know you appreciate their work. Give them suggestions for improvements in their proposed
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