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The Kelley Social Studies Standards

March 30, 2004

The Kelley social studies standards were finally released on Friday, March 26th, well into the committee hearing, and not long before the vote to adopt them. Consequently, the Senate committee members had no opportunity to review the standards they were expected to adopt or reject. It was clear that the majority DFL members of the committee would accept Kelley's standards no matter what.

The authors of the standards remain nameless. Members of the citizen committee standards endured relentless criticism and scrutiny based on their past writings, their employment, their political affiliations, their personal quirks and comments, where their children were educated, and even their private history of political contributions. It was all a matter of intense public debate in newspapers, on websites and in public hearings. The Kelley standards, in contrast, are shrouded in secrecy, constructed by unknown "university professors." Lisa Norling, professor of Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota, and the only professor to come forward, stated in her testimony, "It may appear that they came out of nowhere."

Is this how good government is supposed to work? Unfortunately the Kelley standards are as unacceptable as the process by which they were constructed and released. There are numerous reasons why these standards should be rejected by the Senate. Below are just a few examples:

1. "National sovereignty," the first important principle of the Declaration of Independence, has been removed from the standards and benchmarks put together by the citizens of Minnesota. That is, national sovereignty is never listed as a sub-strand, a standard or a benchmark. It is listed once as a possible topic, meaning schools do not have to teach it.

In contrast, Sen. Kelley's standards use the word "global" 32 times: twice in the Preamble, four times in the statement of overall themes, 13 times in the major sub-strands, seven times in the standards and six times in the benchmarks. In other words, the message of the Kelley standards is that globalism is far more important than national sovereignty. The Kelley standards do not reflect the views of the citizens of Minnesota or mainstream America.

2."Self evident truth," another important principle in the Declaration of Independence, has been removed from the citizen committee standards and benchmarks. The words "truth" or "truths" are never mentioned in the standards or benchmarks. They are only mentioned in the introduction, twice, once in a positive sense and once disparagingly.

While "self evident truth" is never mentioned, the Kelley standards use the words "change" or "changing" 26 times: ten times in the benchmarks, eight times in the standards, and three more times in the Preamble and Introduction. The message conveyed by the Kelley standards, therefore, is the radical transformational view known as postmodernism -- the idea that there is no truth; truth is simply an arbitrary construction of those who hold power. Postmodernism does not reflect the thinking of most Minnesotans. It represents the worldview of an educational elite that is imposing its worldview on Minnesota students.

The postmodernist ideology in the Kelley standards is also seen by the fact that the sentence "Lincoln's understanding of the founders' principles include that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are universal and applicable to all people at all times." is not included from the initial citizen standards, further clarifying the postmodernist ideology that permeates the Kelley standards.

3. An anti-Christian bias is evident in the Kelley standards by its purging of references to AD and BC. These acronyms have been in use for two thousand years, and they are a significant part of our cultural heritage. The Kelley standards replace AD (Anno Domino) and BC (Before Christ) with the acronyms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era) to assure that no one dare speak words that might reveal the true history of western civilization. These Kelley standards do not represent the views of most Minnesota citizens.

4."Free market" has been removed from the Kelley standards. The standard in the citizen standards that "the U.S. is primarily a free market system" has been removed. In its place, the Kelley standards include the benchmark that one "role of government" is to "redistribute income." While redistribution is the effect of some government policies, redistribution of income continues to be a politically controversial policy that is debated and voted on in Congress and state houses every year. The term "free market" is nowhere to be found in the Kelley standards.

Sen. Kelley defends this omission with the argument that the term "market economy" is used, and that the concept of "supply and demand" is included. "Free market," however, means that business is privately owned and that business decisions are made in the private sector. The term "market" does not require either private ownership or private sector decision making. The truth is that in the development of the citizen standards, the words "free market" and "primarily a free market system," were vigorously opposed by those who reject that characterization of the U.S. economic system. Most Minnesotans recognize that the U.S. is and ought to be primarily a free market economy.

5. The theme of the Kelley history standards is the "collision of cultures." This philosophy assumes that America was created by balancing three equal cultures, rather than the truth that the principles of Western civilization were far superior to the others and won the day. The "collision of cultures" was the organizing principle of the National History Standards, which were rejected by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 99 to 1 back in 1995. In contrast, the citizen standards portray a balanced view of America's strengths and weaknesses, and define America as a melting pot of various peoples and cultures. They teach that America is a special and unique nation, which, according to a recent survey, A Lot To Be Thankful for, is what 84% of parents want taught to their children to learn.

The alternative Kelley standards reflect the views of elitists within the educational community. They do not reflect the views of the Minnesota public. For the above reasons, as well as others not mentioned, the Kelley standards should be rejected by the Senate.

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