Date: January 9, 2004
Subject: Limbo

The Academic Standards in Science and Social Studies were released to the public last month as reported on my main web site. The announcement occurred in the press conference room on the first floor of the State Office Building, across the hall from the Secretary of State's office (speaking of whom, Secretary Kiffmeyer made a brief appearance to check up on us before the conference started). Conveniently for the press, this room is equipped with built-in TV lights, which were turned on as we stood beside Commissioner Yecke during the conference.

The big question now, during this state of limbo before the legislative session begins in February, is whether the Legislature will vote the standards up, down, or in between (tinker with them before passing them). Tinkering would be a mistake. It's a short session. If the House or Senate opens up the standards, they open up a can of worms, a political hot potato, a Pandora's box, pick your metaphor. The standards documents (science and social studies) are consensus documents in their current form. They will be subject to review in four year cycles. The Legislature should approve them as written, and put them to the test in the schools.

As you may have heard, Sen. Kelley will be convening a hearing of his Education Policy Committee on Friday, January 23 to discuss the standards. There have also been rumblings about the Senate confirmation of Commissioner Yecke's appointment (as well as the appointments of other Pawlenty commissioners) being less than a sure thing. Throw in the debates over funding for not one, not two, but three stadiums, and it will be a busy "short" session.