Date: May 13, 2004
Subject: Devil in the details

Like the old saw "the devil's in the details," you can learn a lot about what the opposing sides really want (or oppose) by looking at the proposed amendments to bills.

For example, during last week's debate over the Senate omnibus education bill ("omnibus" means a bill that is a combination of related bills that is debated and voted on as one bill), Senate Republicans moved several amendments that were defeated in the DFL-controlled body:

1. Amendment offered by Sen. David Hann to require the implementation of the House-endorsed social studies standards developed by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Academic Standards Committee (on which yours truly served) in place of the standards written by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies. The amendment failed 31 to 35.

2. Amendment offered by Sen. Michele Bachmann to include in the social studies standards teaching with specific reference to such things as "national sovereignty, natural law, self-evident truths, inalienable rights 'endowed by their Creator' of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and that the purpose of government to protect these rights". The amendment failed 31 to 34. Has the DFL declared these principles obsolete, or just irrelevant?

3. Amendment offered by Sen. Gen Olson to require in the science standards the teaching of the scientific investigation and critical analysis of the evolution theory. The amendment failed 31 to 34. A recent Minnesota Zogby poll indicated that 82% of Minnesotans favors presenting the full range of scientific data on controversial issues, such as evolution.

4. Amendment offered by Sen. Michael Jungbauer to require, in the Social Studies standards, that wherever BCE (Before Common Era) is referenced, that it be replaced with the traditional B.C. (Before Christ), and that CE (Common Era) be replaced with the commonly understood A.D. (Anno Domni, Latin for "In the Year of Our Lord"). The amendment failed by voice vote. (The BCE/CE terminology comes from the National History Standards. I suppose next the DFL will strike "One nation under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, if they don't abolish it altogether.)

5. Amendment offered by Sen. Sean Nienow to require in the social studies standards that students are taught and are able to explain President Lincoln's understanding of the nation's founding that "the principles of the Declaration of Independence are universal and applicable to all people of at all times". The amendment failed 27 to 38. OK, this maybe this was getting into a curriculum decision, but after the defeat of the Bachmann amendment, it was worth a try.

For a very detailed account of this debate, check out the listing for SF 1774 at minnesotavotes.org.