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Education Cartel Weighs in on New Standards

September 23, 2003

"The anti-war, anti-wealth, pro-outsiders people are not represented" -- statement at public hearing Monday, September 15th, by a retired philosophy professor from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He was resoundingly applauded by the Chairman of the Moorhead school board and other local educators who apparently believe that focusing on America's negatives will give students a positive education.

Commentary by Julie Sorenson
Published in the "The Fargo-Moorhead Forum" daily newspaper

Here's a pop-quiz for anyone whose tax dollars pay for the education of our future generations:
What do you want students to know about America?

A. The United States "is a unique country that stands for something special in the world." American capitalism causes problems in the world.
B. We have a terrible future, and NOT talking about the dark side does more harm than good.
C. There is no reference to God in the Constitution.
D. Don't care.

OK. Pencils down. What? You didn't know there would be a test today? Well, you have until October 22 to give your answers. The Minnesota Department of Education wants you to look over its proposed new standards for science and social studies, written this summer by volunteer parents and educators. (In case you missed it, new math and language arts standards were written last spring.)

The proposed standards are published at http://www.education.state.mn.us, along with a place to e-mail your comments. Better yet, travel to speak at one of the hearings. Not only will you be heard, but you'll hear what everyone else is saying at these hearings, as I did last Monday night.

Answer A:
Now then, let's look at your answer. If you checked "A," you agree with 85 percent of American parents who described what they want the schools to teach about our country. In the survey, sponsored by the Fordham Foundation, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, 85 percent of parents said that "to graduate from high school, students should be required to show they understand the common history and ideas that tie all Americans together."

Citing this study, Minnesota's Commissioner of Education, Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke asked the history and social studies committee members to "look to the greatness of America as you write new standards for the children of Minnesota."

Answer B:
If your answer is "B," you agree with Kristine Thompson, Chairman of the school board for the Moorhead Public Schools. She testified Monday night in Moorhead that the proposed new standards contain "not enough teaching on the problems capitalism has caused in the world."

While many educators testified that the new standards contain too "broad and expansive" a list of subjects that must be covered, other teachers bemoaned a long list of topics which are not required, each of them focusing on shortcomings and dark moments in American history.

Answer C:
Answer "C" is a direct quote from testimony given by Dr. Phillip Griffin, a retired philosophy professor from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. He was resoundingly applauded by Thompson and other local educators who apparently believe that focusing on America's negatives will give students a positive education.

"There is a lack of & criticism of prevailing world views," he said of the proposed standards. "The anti-war, anti-wealth, pro- outsiders people are not represented."

Answer D:
Answer "D" is what Wesley Twombley, a North Dakota State University employee, says should be added to the standards if students are required to acknowledge that there are four references to God in the Declaration of Independence. "Social Studies is no place for religion," he said. I believe it is decidedly impossible to accurately tell the story of our nation's birth without referencing the religious motivations of the country's founders. To try to do so is completely dishonest.

Answer E:
f your answer is E, heaven help us. Should the majority of Americans join you in your apathy, we won't long have a United States to study.

Thank you for completing this test. The results will be posted well into the future.

Julie Sorenson
Moorhead, MN

UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS.
Be there! Call our office for details.

Thursday September 25th
Worthington Senior High School
1211 Clary Street
Location: Cafeteria
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Monday September 29th
Cloquet Senior High School
1000 18th Street
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday September 30th
Princeton Senior High School
807 South 8th Ave
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday October 1st
Hibbing: Lincoln Middle School
1114 East 23rd Street
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Thursday October 2nd
Bemidji Senior High School
2900 Division Street West
Location: Lumberjack Room
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Thursday October 9th
Coon Rapids Senior High School
2340 Northdale Blvd.
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Monday October 13th
Apple Valley: School of Environmental Studies
12155 Johnny Cake Road
Location: Commons Area
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Monday October 20th
Forest Lake Senior High School
6101 Scandia Trail North
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday October 21st
Stewartville Senior High School
500 4th Street S.W.
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday October 22nd
Albert Lea Senior High School
2000 Tiger Lane
Location: Auditorium
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

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