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The Public Hearings Begin

September 15, 2003

The first draft of the new Minnesota Academic Standards in Social Studies and Science were released to the public last week. You can view the standards and give and public comment online.

Public hearings are being conducted across the state between now and October 22nd. The schedule is included below. The committee must use these hearings to get public input before they make final changes in the standards.

WE URGE YOU TO ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARINGS (See schedule) AND TO GIVE YOUR INPUT TO THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS. Call our office at 651-646-0646 for details. Be there!

The hearings are for the public -- that is, parents, employees, business owners, taxpayers.

How important is your input? The repeal of the Profile of Learning was accomplished over five years of intense work by thousands of people all over Minnesota. What replaces the Profile standards will determine whether we have something different or something essentially the same. Your involvement now is of utmost importance, both to support what is positive and to recommend changes where they are needed.

The new standards are a mix of positive and negative. The Civics and Government standards emphasize knowledge of the foundations of our free country as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Students are expected to know national sovereignty, unalienable rights, self- evident truth, all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights and the purpose of government (to protect these rights). All of this is a red flag for the advocates of the national standards, which undermine all of the above.

Some quotes from the media:
Pioneer Press, September 10th

"I'm increasingly seeing these new standards as statements of values. My problem is, they are values skewed in one direction,'' [Rep.] Davnie said. "These standards seem to be moving away from a mainstream Minnesota idea of what students should know.''

Comment: Rep. Davnie is a liberal Democrat. His definition of "mainstream" Minnesota ideas is usually out of sync with most Minnesotans. It's interesting to note that he never complained about the Profile content standards being outside the mainstream, though Minnesota parents rejected them.

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Star Tribune, September 15th
"Teachers Monica Fitzgerald and Beth Tierney said they were trained in college to teach social studies with themes, not facts."

Comment: The teacher colleges are now teaching the Profile approach to education -- that is, knowledge is not important; learning how to think about something (worldview) is what is important. This approach to learning is what was rejected in the repeal of the Profile.

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Star Tribune, September 15th
"Flynn and her teachers are dedicated to 'core knowledge' teaching, which, like the proposed standards, stresses lots of things kids need to know."

Comment: The new academic standards are, for the most part, an improvement in knowledge-based expectations. Civics and Government, History, and science are strong on content. The new geography standards, however, give short shrift to physical geography, focusing instead on cultural anthropology, world politics and economics. The geography standards are steeped in liberal ideology and a biased worldview. The Geography standards also undermine national sovereignty by the manner in which they address the issue and by overstating the role of regions at the expense of national boundaries.

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Star Tribune, September 15th
"Other educators aren't so sure such learning is anything to brag about. Some characterize the new requirements as a "Trivial Pursuit" game of names and places that are often not meaningful and that could cut into teaching time dedicated to making fewer facts more meaningful."

Comment: In the jargon of "education reform," knowledge is trivialized as meaningless. In the language of the Profile-style learning, "fewer facts" being "more meaningful" means curriculum is short on content, but filled with meaning to transform the worldview of the student.

"'I think this goes much too far in the direction of being an inch deep and a mile-and-a-half, or maybe 10 miles, wide,' said Joe Nathan, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for School Change."

Comment: Joe Nathan and his Center for School Change is one of the chief Minnesota architects for transforming schools from being knowlege- based to being process-based and job training (School-to-Work). The Center for School Change is a well-heeled recipient of grants from the wealthiest corporate foundations which are redesigning our schools through massive grants, away from educating the student and toward transforming the student's worldview.

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Star Tribune, September 15th
"The proposed requirements are a political hot button for those who say they represent a step back into a more uncritical past, glossing over social upheaval and America's failures, and under representing minorities. Supporters say the new requirements represent a long-overdue swing away from a mushy approach that left students ignorant of the past and without a solid grounding in American citizenship."

Comment: Except for the Geography standards, the new standards stay away from diversity training, sticking instead to expecting students to know what's true.The Economics standards have trouble with clearly stating the value and role of private property, and improperly define economics as being simply about scarcity. The history and civics standards, however, stay away from the common anti-American undercurrents. Sixties- era legislators who like to focus on America as negative will not like a positive approach to America's heritage.

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Pioneer Press, September 10th
"In the end, the committee got the language it wanted, giving evolution the full stamp of approval of the state as the way to teach science to all students in Minnesota's public schools."

Comment:
The new science draft standards generally have good content- based expectations, but their approach to evolution is nothing short of unscientific propaganda.

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Pioneer Press September 14th.
"If this is true science it will look at the evidence that clearly contradicts evolution. Otherwise, if the textbooks look only to 'evidence' that appears to support evolution, it is pure propaganda and not science at all." GREG JANDRT, Schofield, Wis.

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