Date: October 31, 2003
Subject:Where's the Beef?

On the eve of the Social Studies Academic Standards Committee meeting, some MAPSSS members are calling for Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke's resignation and accusing her of, to put it mildly, misrepresenting the truth in the draft standards. They will present an Internet petition to scrap the draft and start over, with a goal of creating "new" new standards in a year with a committee configured to their liking (replacing lay public with education establishment). But according to the MAPSSS myths-and-facts statement, they are not very far away from the Academic Standards Committee on the substantive issues:

We concur: "MAPSSS wants higher standards that will promote active citizenship and democracy by engaging students in learning important knowledge and skills required of citizens."

We concur: "MAPSSS places a high priority on knowing, interpreting and using facts to foster higher order thinking that is required in today’s complex world."

We concur: "MAPSSS seeks a middle ground between 'process' heavy Profiles and the 'basic knowledge' emphasis of the proposed standards."

We concur: "MAPSSS agrees with supporters of the proposed standards that students should study important founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and important amendments including the Bill of Rights."

We concur: "MAPSSS believes the duly elected conservative Governor has a right to select a conservative Commissioner of Education, work with the legislature to repeal the Profiles, and develop a new or revised set of standards. However, MAPSSS is opposed to any standards for all of Minnesota’s students and schools that are politically and ideologically biased like the proposed standards. Any new set of standards must gain acceptance from various places on the political spectrum, and not be vulnerable to changes in voting patterns from administration to administration."

As President John F. Kennedy said, "Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us." All of the public hearing theatrics, minority reports, and vitriolic letters to the editor make for superb political theatre. There are intelligent, informed, capable, committed, passionate, and "mainstream" citizens throughout our state. Imagine what superb academic standards we would have if we could only follow President Kennedy's advice.