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New Standards: Improvement Over the Profile but still flawed

May 26, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SAINT PAUL, MN) EdWatch, Minnesota’s largest parent/citizen education advocacy group, stated that the new social studies standards that were passed by the legislature on May 16th are an improvement over the Profile of Learning, but they remain deeply flawed.

“The new standards improve on the Profile of Learning in some important ways,” stated Renee Doyle, EdWatch Board member, and former school board member. “They represent a noteworthy step forward. Unfortunately,” she added, “they are also a tremendous disappointment.” EdWatch has spearheaded public opposition to the Profile of Learning since 1998 when it was fully implemented in Minnesota. The group has been an outspoken advocate of knowledge-based academic standards on behalf of thousands of Minnesota citizens.

Michael Chapman, EdWatch board member, noted that the new standards, while flawed in areas, at least expect students to know a few important facts about our own government. “We’re somewhat encouraged to see that inalienable rights and self-evident truth, for example, are included as founding principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence,” he stated. “Students will also learn that the United States is primarily a free market economy,” Chapman continued, “and that protecting property rights is a primary role of government. These are important education goals for maintaining liberty.”

EdWatch remains critical of the total package, however. “The newly adopted standards primarily use the framework of Sen. Steve Kelley,” said Julie Quist, Vice President of EdWatch. “The Kelley standards never moved very far from the old Profile standards which were rejected by both the public and the legislature.” She said. “The new standards adopted by the legislature make no requirement that schools teach national sovereignty, ignore the central role of Western civilization in our history, and focus on the negatives about America,” she stated. She described the standards as an opportunity largely missed.

Doyle also described the process as flawed. “The open process involving the citizens of Minnesota was abandoned,” she said. “The Kelley standards were written by a few University of Minnesota professors and social studies teachers behind closed doors, The so-called ‘blended standards’ were written the same way,” she said. “The adoption of these standards, unfortunately, attempted to protect the confirmation of the Education Commissioner, Cheri Pierson Yecke. By using the Kelley framework, legislators hoped to appease the radical education elite. In the end,” Doyle concluded, “they lost both good standards and a good Commissioner.”

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