Date: May 21, 2004
Subject: EdWatch appraises new standards

Excerpted from an update to EdWatch members:

A futile effort to appease Sen. Kelley's angry political base produced a new set of flawed social studies standards that were crafted in secret by curriculum directors, bureaucrats and so-called "experts" who support the radical federal curriculum. Sen. Kelley's strategy of tying the Commissioner up in politically motivated confirmation hearings effectively sidelined her from the process for weeks. Without a shepherd, the citizen standards were orphaned.

The new science and social studies standards passed both the House and the Senate in the last hour before the final session adjourned. No time remained for lawmakers to read or debate them.

In spite of their flaws, however, the new social studies standards improve on the Profile of Learning in a number of important ways. Since the old Profile standards are currently integrated throughout the public school curriculum, most notably in language arts, the passage of these new standards represents a minimal, but noteworthy, improvement.

The problems remaining in Minnesota's social studies standards, however, are considerable. They adopt the framework from the radical Kelley standards, which we have vigorously opposed.

The newly adopted science standards do NOT include in the life sciences that students will study the full range of scientific evidence related to controversial issues such as evolution, in spite of almost universal public expectation that this information should be taught.

Most revealing was Sen. Kelley's absolute refusal to include national sovereignty as one of the founding principles of our country. National sovereignty is included as mere examples twice, neither time in a positive light.

Finally, the process by which the "compromise" was adopted is disturbing. The final language was assembled in complete secrecy by a team who were obviously in sympathy with the radical approach to social studies.

The "compromise" was distributed Saturday afternoon to conference committee members and to others present; then the committee adjourned. The final version was accepted by the conference committee in a hastily called meeting in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Those of us standing vigil all night were not even informed of the meeting.

A few hours later, and minutes before final adjournment, the Senate adopted the entire education bill. Senator Bachmann pleaded to see a copy of the standards before the final vote. She was not recognized to debate them.

Critics claimed the Commissioner didn't listen to their complaints, a totally false charge. In the end, it was the radicals who bludgeoned through standards compiled by a one-sided, handpicked few who disregarded the intense desire of Minnesota parents and taxpayers for standards that pass on the knowledge of our freedom to the next generation.