Date: November 19, 2003
Subject: My recent letters to the editor

To the editor (Star Tribune):

While we pat ourselves on the back over Minnesota's first-place rank in the National Assessement of Educational Progress (NAEP) math assessment, we should understand that the role of the NAEP is to enforce compliance with the "voluntary" national standards under No Child Left Behind. Since the Profile of Learning was aligned with the national "fuzzy math" standards ("a large percentage of constructed-response questions and questions that require the use of calculators and other materials" according to the NAEP web site), and what gets tested gets taught, it should come as no surprise that we're number one.

To D.J. Tice (Pioneer Press):

Thanks for another cogent analysis of the debate over the draft social studies standards. Detractors of the new standards continually elevate "higher order thinking skills" and disparage "life-draining, robotic rote memorization, regurgitation, and parroting of hundreds of mere trivial factoids." Talk about a false choice.

Minnesota's kids, as you put it, are "better off knowing a few facts, if only so they can understand the opinions they're 'forming.'" In social studies, "higher order thinking" without a foundation of facts is indoctrination. Lenin understood this when he said, "Take away a people's heritage and they are easily persuaded."