Date: March 23, 2004
Subject: Back to the future

Alternative standards for social studies were presented in three parts at Sen. Steve Kelley's (DFL-Hopkins) Senate Education Committee hearing last Thursday. They represent the work of Lisa Norling, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Minnesota Department of History, and other unnamed teachers and professors.

On its web site, MAPSSS conveniently has it both ways, stating on the one hand that,
MAPSSS will remain non-partisan and not prematurely endorse any one of the Senate’s alternatives...Considering there has been little publicity about these 3 new alternative drafts offered by Democrats and that there will be very little public feedback prior to the Senate committee vote, we continue to be concerned that this process is not and will not provide adequate opportunities for public feedback with a goal of getting high quality social studies standards for Minnesota...
and on the other hand,
...they ALL are much better in their own ways than the seriously flawed standards recommended by unconfirmed Commissioner Yecke and passed by the House of Representatives.
Well, their name is their agenda: Minnesotans Against Proposed Social Studies Standards. This is also apparently the agenda of the DFLers in the Senate.

As presented, Alternative 1 seems to be the most serious proposal, with a detailed introduction and table formatting that mirrors that used by the Academic Standards Committee. Alternative 2 is titled "Sample Social Studies Standards." Alternative 3 is marked "March 1, 2004 DRAFT." Perhaps there was a cover letter that accompanied these documents, but the authors were not identified in the drafts themselves (although all three apparently were created in Microsoft Word by "lindas").

After the repeal of the Profile of Learning in 2003, EdWatch warned that in 2004 we could very well end up with the Profile of Learning in another name. Read the alternative standards: it's deja vu all over again. The process used to create Sen. Kelley's alternative social studies standards resembles that used to create the Profile of Learning in that the public was not involved, nor will they be involved. Sen. Kelley would set aside the months of work of the citizen Academic Standards Committee and MDE staff, which was subject to unprecedented public oversight, in favor of the partisan tweaking, in a few conference committee meetings at the Capitol, of proposals submitted by a few elites in the education establishment. Sounds familiar!

Alternatively, Senate DFLers may simply vote "no" on the social studies standards, blocking their passage either prior to or after a conference committee meets. The majority caucus in the Senate appears to be the gatekeeper of the education agenda again, with no reelection pressure looming this year.