Date: October 14, 2003
Subject: Paul Spies and Minnesotans Against Proposed Social Studies Standards (MAPSSS)

Those who reject the new draft academic standards are represented by an organization called Minnesotans Against Proposed Social Studies Standards (MAPSSS). MAPSSS was started by Dr. Paul Spies, who was quoted in the Pioneer Press, "These standards must be rejected. They are too numerous, too Euro-centric and too politically biased."

Spies is on the faculty of Metro State University. In 2001 he was the keynote speaker at the Minnesota State University Moorhead Student Academic Conference. The title of his speech was, "Struggling for Re-Education in Our Multicultural Global Society." According to the MSU-Moorhead web site, "Spies, who holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a specialist in multicultural education and school reform issues. He has nearly a decade's experience teaching in urban and suburban high schools where he developed multicultural faculty and student organizations."

Most recently, Spies has been promoting MAPSSS at the Academic Standards Committee public hearings. The group's goals include "to reject adoption and implementation of the proposed state standards for history and social studies" and to propose alternative standards. Toward this end, the group is circulating a petition on its web site. Its web site claims to be a "broad coalition," but most of the over 780 petition signatures appear to be from self-described "teachers" or "educators."

To help justify its case, the web site includes the following lie: "The standards committee was told to draft Minnesota’s standards by using five states’ standards (i.e., Alabama, Arizona, California, Kansas, Virginia) endorsed by the right-wing conservative Fordham Foundation." In fact, these standards were provided for reference only. The committee was given complete ownership of and freedom to write its standards.

The entire approach taken by MAPSSS proves the point that Minnesota students need to learn their country's founding documents, including the Constitution. MAPSSS ignores the fact that the entire Academic Standards process is the product of our Constitutional republic: the elections of 2002 that placed Tim Pawlenty in the governor's office, that increased the Republican majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives, decreased the Democrat majority in the Senate, repealed the Profile of Learning, and established the new Academic Standards process which includes citizen committees, public hearings and legislative oversight. If MAPSSS does not understand the difference between a republic and a democracy, it should refer to Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.

With support from Rep. Jim Davnie and others, MAPSSS will be lobbying the Legislature in February 2004 to reject the standards (which they haven't seen yet) and start over, with a MAPSSS-endorsed process that will take a year or more. Given the political nature of their arguments, however, it is difficult to imagine a process that the elites would find acceptable under a Republican governor's administration — unless they completely controlled it. Why can't the public stay out of public education and leave it to the "experts?"

Stay tuned for updates on MAPSSS. In the meantime, please don't take my word for it, visit the MAPSSS web site at: http://mapsss.no-ip.org/.