Date: February 17, 2004
Subject: Third draft

Now that the social studies standards hot potato has landed in the lap of the House Ed Policy Committee, Republican legislators and Commissioner Yecke are struggling to craft a third draft that will pass out of committee (which includes MAPSSS friend Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis)) and onto the floor of the House, where it is expected to pass. At today's House Ed Policy Committee hearing, the third draft caught heat from EdWatch for being crafted behind closed doors by Yecke and legislative leaders Rep. Barb Sykora (R-Excelsior), chair of the House Ed Policy Committee; and Rep. Alice Seagren (R-Bloomington), member of the same committee and chair of the House Ed Finance Committee. Julie Quist of EdWatch called for a return to the second draft, which was created by the citizen committee, of which yours truly is a member.

One of the more interesting revisions to me was the deletion of this benchmark:

Students will explain that Lincoln’s understanding of the founders’ principles includes that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are universal and applicable to all people at all times. (Emphasis added)
This is a big deal because the Declaration of Independence says that certain rights are inalienable, meaning that the government can't ever take them away. Why would anyone object to this benchmark, unless perhaps they believe that the rights to life, national sovereignty, and property rights are not so inalienable after all?

DFLers are fuming over the standards and education funding, and they will have a field day in the Senate, where they hold a slim majority. Forget tweaking content in the Senate, look for Sen. Steve Kelley (DFL-Hopkins) to scrap the social studies standards and start over with a new committee composed of liberal interest groups and education establishment types. The confirmation of Commissioner Yecke also hangs in the political balance. How will the new Senate majority leader Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) play these issues? The bigger question is how far will our popular deficit busting, hockey-playing governor go during eleventh-hour negotiations to save the social studies standards and his education commissioner. Do you believe in miracles?