Date: September 10, 2003
Subject: Politics as usual

The DFL has fired its first shot at the draft standards, just as the public comment period begins:
Already, the proposed social-studies requirements have come under fire. Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, who is also a social-studies teacher at Buffalo Middle School, charged that the standards give short shrift to key points in U.S. history such as the women's and civil rights movements, and that the language of some requirements is charged with politically conservative sentiments. ("New school standards stress basics." Star Tribune, 9/9/03)

One critic claims the new social studies standards are too political and too conservative. Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, who teaches middle-school social studies in the Buffalo School District, had several concerns: The Vietnam War is characterized as "defending freedom," and the labor union movement gets three mentions but entrepreneurship gets 10.

"There are some odd omissions and inconsistencies,'' Davnie said. "Their standards represent a high-gloss view of American history." ("Academic standards strike nerves," Pioneer Press, 9/9/03)

Funny, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press never accused the Profile of Learning of being "charged with politically liberal sentiments." To the contrary, they saved their most acerbic editorial attacks for Profile opponents.

I know, you're shocked, SHOCKED that there is politics going on at the Capitol. Opponents of the Pawlenty administration, of which Commissioner Yecke is a part, will try to make political hay out of the standards process, particularly when hearings are convened in Saint Paul.

Committee members said they were not interested in promoting partisan politics but strong education. "You didn't have a lot of cultural warriors in there — you had serious, dedicated teachers who worked together to produce a strong set of standards,'' said Southwest Minnesota State University Professor David Sturrock, a social studies committee member. ("Academic standards strike nerves, " Pioneer Press, 9/9/03)

If the last go-around is any indication, Pawlenty's political opponents will attack the messengers during the public hearings, and offer little in substance to improve the standards themselves.

Please read the standards yourself. I hope you will contribute your critical yet constructive comments via the web, e-mail, or public hearings, then tell your legislators to lay off the politics and approve the new citizen-created standards.