Date: April 30, 2004
Subject: DFL undermining our children

Originally published in the Pioneer Press, April 30, 2004, letters to the editor

For 30 years, I have given time, money and votes to the DFL — but no more. By playing politics in opposing education commissioner Cheri Yecke, the party undermines our children. As Minnesotans, we need our students to gain sound, core knowledge in all academic areas. We don't need them bogged down in pointless Profile projects, like carving sculptures for a European history class, classifying movies and dogs for a high school science class or using board games and pop movies to do research for a high school history course (to cite just a few examples I've seen).

We also need to restore programs that nurture our brightest students. Too often these future contributors are discouraged and neglected. Many flee to private schools, charter schools or home schools. In my district, about 40 percent now choose these alternatives. Remember the slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste?" If our legislators really believed that, they would vote to confirm Yecke. She understands why our state is no longer up to par. She can work with great teachers to restore excellence… if the DFL lets her.

Mendota Heights


Date: April 28, 2004
Subject: School Board Chair Endorses Yecke

Remarks as written to the Minnesota Senate Education Committee, April 27, 2004, by Kathryn Green:

Senator Kelley, members of the committee, my name is Kathryn Green, I am Chairperson of the Austin School Board. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on the matter before you.

First and foremost I am here as a parent. Literally my journey as involved parent has led me here. In 1992, while serving on our district’s Performance, Evaluation and Review committee, the precursor to our current Curriculum Advisory Committee, it became apparent to me that legislation both at the state and federal level was going to be driving the classroom. You as legislators would be having a seat at our family’s kitchen table. We would be intertwined when curriculum issues and class selection were being discussed, no longer would it be enough to contact a teacher or school board member. The magnitude of that reality has continued to grow over the past 12 years.

Partisanship in any form in education is destructive. I am a parent who was going to pay attention and understand the implications of policy actions. I grew up in a Democrat home, campaigned for state and local candidates and when my concern for education took me to the legislature. I contacted my local legislators, Sen. Pat Piper and Rep. Rob Leighton. To my dismay they had little interest in discussing the limitations of the Profile of Learning. They talked in terms of “High Standards.” In 1998, I attended the Democratic state convention in St. Cloud. The realization that the state Democrats had embraced the Profile and had little interest to hear of its down side was apparent. In 2002 I attended the Republican state convention in St. Paul lobbying hard for the repeal of the Profile. And should any of you like to paint me with a right wing conservative brush you could also find a 2002 campaign donation to Sen. Becky Lourey for her campaign for governor.

As I have followed the political actions of the state legislature in regards to education there were significant actions including the dismantling of the State Board of education in 1998 and the transfer of authority to the Commissioner of Education. Past practice of this committee saw Christine Jax, who was married to a Democratic legislator, had a fraction of the experience and credentials of the candidate before you, recommended for confirmation in a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes and then onto the floor for a voice vote for confirmation.

I am here to give my unequivocal support to Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke as the commissioner of education for the great state of Minnesota. I am non-partisan when it comes to education. My politics are that of a parent.

I am a graduate of South High School, as well as the University of Minnesota. First and foremost I am a parent with a passion for the education of my children, a public education. Now as Chairperson, that passion extends to the 4,000 students in our community. Our community is a newly diverse one with demographics that mirror that of Minnesota inner-city urban areas. We have challenges facing us in terms of poverty, mobility, limited English proficiency and the onslaught of No Child Left Behind. We also have talented students and staff who value academics and the arts.

I have come to my support of Commissioner Yecke as a person skeptical of the position. When her name was announced I wanted to know her background and philosophy. Would she advocate for students and public education? Would she support academics and respect local autonomy? Would she listen to the students, parents and education staff who so much want to communicate their concerns?

I was one of more than two thousand applicants across the state selected to serve on the Academic Standards Committee last spring. My committee proved to be a diverse group of educators, parents and community members from across the state who had an equal passion for making Minnesota’s academic standards a leader in the nation. My area of involvement was Math grades 9-12. Early in the process the math committee bogged down with the elements of “math wars:” calculators vs. no calculators in elementary standards, along with traditional vs. integrated approaches. Commissioner Yecke entered the discussion to bring the two sides together. She directed the committee to set specific measurable academic math standards and explained the autonomy of local districts would make the ultimate philosophic decisions regarding curriculum. Both sides came together to create a superior set of standards that either philosophy could proceed with. Her approach was equally successful with the debate between phonics vs. whole language. She is incredibly sensitive and knowledgeable of current and past trends in curricular movements. The current scrutiny of the social studies and science standards show her ability to continue to maintain composure as she seeks scholarly critiques and areas of compromise.

During her unprecedented tour of the state with her public hearings of the proposed academic standards she was greeted in communities with warmth and enthusiasm. In her initial visit to Austin within weeks of her appointment she sought out community members to get a feel for the uniqueness of our circumstances. She asked parents and education staff for their perception of the state of education in our area, strengths as well as concerns. She is a sincere listener who has the ability to communicate to her audience. As a member the Academic Standards committee I joined the Commissioner at several public hearings throughout southeastern Minnesota. The poise and respect she showed to supporters as well as detractors while presenting the proposed academic standards throughout the state was stellar.

We have a segment of special needs students in our district and the state that are little understood or mandated to be provided with appropriate services. Dr. Yecke has been criticized for the professional text she has written giving a voice to the needs of our high potential middle school students. It is a well researched and documented book asking hard questions and giving thought provoking solutions to help our students meet their ultimate potential.

Starting at least 10 years ago, parents across the state weighing options have taken their children and migrated to private and home schooling. They go quietly; it is not in their nature to visit the halls of their legislature to plead their case for Minnesota’s tradition of educational excellence. I have come to know that Commissioner Yecke is the person who will advocate for educational excellence for all children, to build the confidence and structure needed to maintain our status as an educational leader nationwide. She has proved herself to be intelligent with impeccable credentials, education and experience. Her roots are in Minnesota. She knows and has a feel for classrooms, curriculum and politics. Her life’s work has been invested believing in public education. She sees and understands the challenges that are facing this essential element of our society.

In her own words: “To put it simply, my vision for public education is this: Minnesota, long a leader in national measures of academic achievement, must move into a new stage of leadership where we maintain our position and continue to cultivate academic excellence in the aggregate, while rising to the challenge of providing a quality education for struggling students, thereby narrowing, and eventually closing, the achievement gap.”

Our state needs to seize this opportunity and support the confirmation of Dr. Cheri Pierson Yecke as our Education Commissioner.

Date: April 27, 2004
Subject: A Statement from the Governor

Saint Paul - The following is a statement from Governor Tim Pawlenty in response to the Senate Education Committee's confirmation vote on Commissioner of Education Cheri Pierson Yecke:

"Today's vote by the Senate Education Committee was a vote against innovation, accountability and reform in education. Dr. Yecke has been taking on the status quo — and winning — which is why Senate Democrats voted along party lines to reject her.

"Throughout Minnesota history, confirmation of commissioners has been based on qualifications and fitness for service. We have never had a Commissioner of Education with better qualifications, experience and vision for reform. In just fifteen months as commissioner, she has led the overhaul of the maligned Profile of Learning and replaced it with new learning standards, established school evaluation tools so that parents can know how their schools stack up, and undertaken many other reforms.

"Imagine what the Senate Education Committee could have done if they had invested the same time and energy in improving education that they've spent tearing down a reformer.

"Today's vote had nothing to do with qualifications. It had everything to do with a Democratic Party that is void of ideas and afraid of the future."


Date: April 15, 2004
Subject: Let the governor choose his team

Pioneer Press, Posted on Thu, Apr. 15, 2004

STATE CABINET CONFIRMATIONS: Let the governor choose his team

Note to the Minnesota Senate: Knock it off. It's time you confirmed Gov. Tim Pawlenty's choices to head the education and transportation departments.

We believe quite strongly that a governor should be able to populate his cabinet with the commissioners of his choice, provided they are qualified, ethical and have a clean legal record.

Minnesota is ill-served by a confirmation process that threatens to descend into Washington-like partisan warfare. Such a system can only serve to convince good people that public service is a bad career choice. Such a system can only result in further partisan gamesmanship. Such a system is a prescription for gridlock at a time when Minnesota state government desperately needs collaboration, cooperation and a shared sense of purpose and the common good.

While Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, the governor's nominee to head the DOT, might fairly be characterized as more conservative than the Minnesota mainstream, there has been no hint that either is guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance, no indication that either is incapable of running her department.

True, Yecke has not helped her cause with ill-advised comments about Columbus and the labeling of those Minnesotans who opposed her first draft of new social studies standards as the "hate America" crowd. But her experience in the classroom, as well as her leadership roles in the Virginia and U.S. education departments clearly give her the experience necessary to run this state's education agency. She has also shown a willingness to listen to the public — most notably during consideration of the new science and social studies standards — and to make the changes necessary to win broader support for her agenda. Not unanimity, certainly, but wider acceptance.

Molnau, it appears, is too highway-focused for Senate Democrats. She hasn't been a big supporter of rail transit. She has supported the governor's no-new-taxes pledge, which has kept transportation budgets tight. But those are hardly reasons to reject her nomination, as a Senate committee recommended earlier this month along party lines. By all accounts Molnau is a capable manager. She knows transportation. There appears to be no reason — beyond political disagreement — to reject her nomination.

The Senate should move quickly to confirm Yecke and Molnau (and Rich Stanek at Public Safety and Pawlenty's remaining upper management choices, for that matter). Let the governor govern with the management team of his choice.

Ultimately, Gov. Pawlenty — and his cabinet — will answer to the voters for those choices. That's as it has always been. And as it should be.


Date: April 14, 2004
Subject: Circle the wagons

Carrie Lucking, a social studies teacher in state Sen. Steve Kelley's district and founder of the Alliance to Block the Confirmation of the Commissioner (ABC), is alarmed. According to a message sent to ABC members:
Ms. Yecke is circling the wagons. Her supporters are sending letters to the Senate at an alarming rate. This must be counteracted...The Senate says they’ve been hearing more from Yecke’s supporters lately than from us! This is a problem! We outnumber Ms. Yecke’s supporters, but our voices must be heard.
Well, I'll be the first to admit that ABC collected more (dubiously verifiable) petition signatures than yours truly (although Lucking's had a head start on the three pro-Yecke petitions, which were not posted until March). And the Twin Cities media — notably MPR, the PiPress, and the Strib — have made her their go-to gal for anti-Cheri Pierson Yecke sound bites. Does that mean that more Minnesotans are against Commissioner Yecke's confirmation than support it? The minor outpouring of support for the commissioner this week, even after the Strib laid its anti-Yecke OpEx egg on Easter Sunday, is coming from somewhere.

Circle the wagons, Pilgrims, at the Capitol rotunda tomorrow, 9:30 am. And keep those cards and letters, and e-mails and phone calls, coming.


Date: April 12, 2004
Subject: Confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke

The Minnesota Senate should use its advise and consent role to confirm Governor Pawlenty's well-qualified appointees, and allow him to govern as mandated by the voters who elected him. Cheri Pierson Yecke is eminently well-qualified to serve as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education. The Senate should confirm her appointment.

Commissioner Yecke brings to the Minnesota Department of Education a twenty-year career of teaching and public service, as a classroom teacher, member of the Virginia Board of Education, Deputy Secretary and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, a director at the U.S. Department of Education, and senior advisor to the USA Freedom Corps.

Governor Tim Pawlenty brought Commissioner Yecke to Minnesota as a "change agent," to help restore the core academics that were left behind by the Profile of Learning, to refocus her department back on education, and to create tools that would help Minnesotans to better understand school and student performance. Within twelve months of her appointment, she is well on the way to achieving all of these goals. Commissioner Yecke's opponents in the state's liberal establishment are disturbed by the success of this appointee of the popular Republican governor, and are working overtime to defeat her confirmation.

As a public school parent and member of the Academic Standards Committee, I had the opportunity to learn first-hand that Commissioner Yecke is an outspoken advocate of knowledge-based academic achievement for all. Under her leadership, citizen Academic Standards Committees created new graduation standards in mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies, to replace the discredited Profile of Learning. As directed by the Legislature, the new standards are clear, concise, objective, measurable, and raise academic expectations.

Commissioner Yecke has put the “public” back into public education. The process used to create the four new standards documents was the most public in state history. The committee meetings were subject to the state open meeting law, all committee members' names were made public, early draft standards were posted on the department web site prior to their submission to the Legislature, and hundreds of pages of public comments were collected and considered from hearings throughout the state, the department web site, e-mail, postal mail, and telephone.

Contrast this process with that used by Commissioner Yecke's opponents to create the alternative social studies standards, which the DFL-controlled Senate Education Committee recently passed on a party-line vote. The alternative standards were created far from public view by education elites, including professors at the University of Minnesota and the former head of the National Council for the Social Studies. Minnesota citizens were not allowed to comment on the draft before the committee vote. According to Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee, the standards represent low-expectation minimum competencies, a “floor we expect every child to get to.” This is all tellingly similar to the Profile of Learning.

Many of those opposing Commissioner Yecke's confirmation would turn back the clock on Minnesota education policy. They would block passage of any social studies standards this session. They would discard the work of the citizen Academic Standards Committee (which the Senate is already doing, contrary to the Profile of Learning repealer law passed last session), form a new standards committee and start the standards writing process from scratch. Some would make state education policy less accountable to the public by making the commissioner an appointee of a revived state board of education, which was disbanded by the Legislature in 1999.

The DFL is poised to use its slim majority in the Senate to reverse the progress made to restore knowledge-based academics to Minnesota public schools, which only began last year with the repeal of the Profile of Learning. Minnesota needs Commissioner Yecke to insist that the public, including but not limited to educators, should have a say in public education policy, and to oppose a return to Profile of Learning-style minimum competency standards. Please urge your state senator to confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke as Commissioner of Education.


Date: April 9, 2004
Subject: Shocked!

In the film classic Casablanca, Claude Rains as Captain Renault says, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" — immediately before his tirade is interrupted so he can receive his roulette winnings.

In an April 8 editorial, the PiPress is shocked, shocked that the Republicans in Saint Paul are calling DFL opposition to two Pawlenty appointees, Carol Molnau as Commissioner of Transportation and Cheri Pierson Yecke as Commissioner of Education, "gender bias." The editorial says that "Arguments about gender bias are a ridiculous foil" and "absurd."

Well, duh!

Ridiculous foils and absurd charges are the currency (small change if you will) of Capitol discourse. My personal favorite example is House Minority Leader Rep. Matt Entenza's press conference announcing that the Taxpayers League of Minnesota is Minnesota's "shadow government." They held the press conference with the twin towers of Carlson Center in the background (the Taxpayer's League actually shares some modest office space in a low-profile building down the street), and at least one TV station brought cameras inside the office to find TLM president (shadow governor?) David Strom at his windowless office desk. It was great political theatre. Hats off to Rep. Entenza, he made his point, but we all know how serious he was (not).

If you can get past the PiPress's mock shock, you'll find some actual insight in the editorial:
A better discussion centers on the benefits of having a deliberate confirmation process. If its initial purpose was to prevent cronyism in government appointments at the highest level, it appears to be working...Pawlenty is correct that his appointees are charged first with carrying out his wishes...Consequently, the debate from Democrats has as much to do with the governor's policies as it has to do with the commissioners who embrace those policies...Pawlenty has the right to name commissioners who will carry forward his vision for the state. If Yecke, Stanek or Molnau are forced out, there are 30 more like them waiting in the wings. Democrats know that. [Emphasis added.]
The DFL is calling Pawlenty's hand and raising the stakes by opposing some of Pawlenty's commissioner appointments and passing a bill that would dismiss 38 of his assistant commissioners. Don't be shocked that there's gambling going on in here. It's how the game is played.

The Senate Education Committee holds its second and final hearing on the confirmation of Cheri Pierson Yecke as Commissioner of Education next Tuesday, April 13, 3:30 p.m., in the circular Room 15 Capitol.


Date: April 7, 2004
Subject: Our State (is) Fair

To be fair, allow me to clarify and reemphasize the fact that Michael Boucher quotes Jonathan Kozol in his thesis, along with many other authors. The quote in bold in my previous post was said by Kozol, not by Boucher. At any rate the point here is not to pick on Boucher, but to encourage you all to examine the alternative standards crew as we on the Academic Standards Committee were examined (just to be fair).

So what is this about the Senate breaking the law by endorsing the MCSS standards?

Well, to be fair, not exactly, and EdWatch didn't say so, I did, in a rare display of imprecision. According to the EdWatch update:
Minnesota state law requires that when developing the new social studies standards, the Commissioner must include the advice of "parents of school-age children and members of the public throughout the state, teachers throughout the state, ...school principals throughout the state, ...members of local school boards ...and representatives of the business community." (120B.021) The Kelley standards violate those requirements that the Senate placed on the commissioner. Clearly, Kelley applies a double standard to his standards development.
So the point is that Kelley is arguably going against the intent of the legislature by endorsing the MCSS standards, which were not subject to the public process outlined in the Profile of Learning repealer legislation.

Of course, some would argue that the Commissioner's process wasn't really public, it was "stacked" with right-wingers, even if it was within the letter of the law. So the Senate's solution is to endorse standards written by a committee with a bias that tilts the other way?

Read the entire EdWatch update here.


Date: April 6, 2004
Subject: Pardon, your ideology is showing

EdWatch issued an e-mail missive to its members that announced a MAPSSS-style page on its web site that peeks into the backgrounds of the committee members who wrote the alternative social studies standards. It also raises the possibility that the Senate is heading toward breaking the law in its endorsement of the Minnesota Council for Social Studies (MCSS) approved document. (More on the latter point later.)

The first part seems fair enough. After all, it was the MAPSSS A Guide to Ideological Influences on the Standards that aimed "to expose the extreme right-wing ideological influences on the standards by individuals and organizations that are in favor of undermining public education and limiting students’ ability to think critically," even going so far as to research individual campaign contributions. So when three alternative standards appeared one day on the Senate Ed Committee web site, people naturally wanted to know where they came from (see previous post).

MinnBEST spokesperson and alternative standards team member Michael Boucher and I have been recently discussing national sovereignty in this blog. He and I don't see it the same way, and after the EdWatch update, I have a better understanding of why. EdWatch reports that, in the masters thesis posted on his web site, Boucher points to author Jonathan Kozol as a major influence on his teaching:
[Kozol] quotes the Arizona Board of Education, stating that the job of schools is 'to augment a child's... love of country... ideals of the home... appreciation of traditional values... and that our nation is the envy of the civilized world' (p. 4). Kozol replies to this mission statement, 'However we do it, I believe it is our job is to be quite clear to students that schools exist precisely in order to destroy such loyalty.' (p. 5). Given this view of the purpose of schools, Kozol proceeds to take a radical stance on many subjects leading to some specific attitudes and philosophies that lead students out of complacent and oppressive education... [Emphasis added.]

Kozol's work convinces me that by being a citizen of the city where I teach, in solidarity with my students, I can equip the next generation of citizens to improve all of our situation [sic].
Or, as Lincoln said, "The philosophy of the schoolhouse in this generation is the philosophy of the government in the next generation." Lenin took it one step further: "Take away a people's heritage and they are easily persuaded."

As Boucher points out elsewhere in his article, "Kozol believes that all education is political." Right-wing, left-wing, Buffalo Wild Wings, maybe we just need to stop worrying and learn to love our wings. It seems that even "multipartisan" groups like MAPSSS and MinnBEST have their ideology, which unavoidably seeps into their standards like the dark stains that indicate the freshness of those Powdermilk Biscuits.


Date: April 1, 2004
Subject: Alternative standards authors revealed

Here is a list of authors of the alternative social studies standards, provided by the Senate Education Committee. There were four teams:

1. Minnesota Civics Group
2. U.S. and World History Writing Team
3. Economics Writing Team
4. Geography Writing Team

If you have been paying attention, you'll recognize some of the most vocal critics of the Academic Standards Committee's work on this list, many of whom are regular readers of this blog and web site. I give this group major credit for putting their money where their mouth is. After being dissatisfied with the outcome of the second draft, they got to work writing an alternative, and they got it approved (albeit along party lines) by the Senate Ed Committee.

The MN Civics Group wrote one set of comments that David Buller used to guide our (Government & Citizenship) large group discussion, mostly because it was formatted like our first draft, mirroring our spreadsheet of standards, benchmarks, and examples and because we each had a hardcopy of their suggestions. There were many questions that day about "who are these guys?" I would have been more comfortable if they had attached their names to their comments.

Putting aside labels like "education elites" (mea cupla) and "education establishment," now that we have some real names to look at, I'll have to admit that they are a distinguished group. I would make an objection here to the "inmates running the asylum" arguments made by some in this group, that only teachers and curriculum directors should be writing these standards. But many of them are debate coaches, and I was never in debate.

Speaking of labels, Bruce Sanborn may have influenced the standards, but unless he is some sort of Amazing Kreskin manipulating us telepathically, he did not have any more influence than I or any other member. I met the infamous (in liberal circles) Sanborn of the Claremont Institute for the first time during the Academic Standards Committee meetings. He is a very nice guy, thoughtful, very well read as you might expect, sort of like my favorite U of M college professors but without the liberal bias. Even Rick Theisen, in his testimony opposing Commissioner Yecke's appointment yesterday before the Senate Ed Committee, observed at least once that Bruce's suggestions were vetoed by the rest of the writing committee during one of their (open to the public) meetings. I can tell you that this happened more than once, as David Buller also observed in his testimony before the House Ed Policy Committee.

Now on to the alternative standards committee roster:

1. MN Civics Group Alternative Civics Standards Writing Committee

JoEllen Ambrose
Champlin Park High School

Sandy Aldrich
Park Rapids Area High School
Park Rapids

Amy Bergquist
Minneapolis South High School

Jennifer Bloom
MN Center for Community Legal Education
St. Paul

Michael Boucher
South High School

James Farr
Department of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Lynn Gresser
Coon Rapids High School
Coon Rapids

Ann Marie Lubovich
Pine River-Backus High School
Pine River

Lisa Norling
Department of History
University of Minnesota

Craig Roble
Heritage Middle School
West Saint Paul

Lonni Skrentner
Edina High School

2. U.S. and World History Writing Team

Sarah Chambers, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Latin American specialist, Fulbright Scholar; current Roseville Public School parent.

Sara Evans, Ph.D., Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Modern U.S. specialist, recipient of University of Minnesota President's Outstanding Service Award and College of Liberal Arts Dean's Medal; past Blake School and St. Paul Public School parent.

Edward Farmer, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, East Asian and World History specialist, Fellow of University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers, editor of Ming Studies; past Minneapolis Public School parent.

John Howe, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Colonial and Revolutionary America specialist, recipient of University of Minnesota President's Outstanding Service Award, co-author of best-selling college textbook The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society (Harper Collins); past St. Paul Public School parent.

Mary Jo Maynes, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, currently President of the Social Science History Association, Modern European and World History specialist, recipient of University of Minnestoa Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education; past St. Paul Public School parent.

Lisa Norling, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Revolutionary and 19th-century U.S. specialist, University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor; current Minneapolis Public School parent.

J.B. Shank, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Early Modern European specialist, University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor, Fulbright Scholar; former High School Western Civilization, History, and Social Studies teacher (in California); current St. Paul Public School parent.

Ann Waltner, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, East Asian and World History specialist, University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor, editor of the Journal of Asian Studies.

Barbara Welke, Ph.D., J.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Modern U.S. and Legal/Constitutional History specialist, University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor, editorial board member of American Society for Legal History and Law & History Review; current St. Paul Academy parent.

Consulting contributors:

Patricia G. Avery, Ph.D., Professor of Social Studies Education, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Minnesota School of Education.

Marjorie Bingham, St. Louis Park High School teacher (retired), World History curriculum specialist, member of the Bradley Commission on History in Schools, past board member of American Historical Association's Teaching Division.

Dana Carmichael-Tanaka, Ph.D., Director of No Child Left Behind and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for the Minneapolis Public Schools.

3. Economics Writing Team

Joseph A. Ritter
Associate Professor
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

Tracey Deutsch
Assistant Professor
Department of History
University of Minnesota

Rick Theisen
Social Studies Teacher, grades 10-12, Osseo High School, Osseo,
Minnesota, 1966-July 1, 2000

4. Geography Writing Team

John Brady, eighth grade geography teacher at Buffalo Community Middle School, and member of the Minnesota Academic Standards Committee.

Beth Potter, Dean of students at South View Middle School in Edina, and former Edina Public Schools Social Studies Specialist.

Craig Hattam, seventh grade geography teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Hibbing, and MCSS board member.

There now. You may have an occasional disagreement with their views, but these are professionals who are clearly qualified. Hmm. Is there an echo in here?


Date: March 31, 2004
Subject: Petition Presented to Minnesota Senate

Minnesota Education Reform News


March 31, 2004

Petition to Confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke Presented to the Minnesota Senate

(ST. PAUL, MN) A petition to confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education was presented to Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee today.

The petition contains 541 signatures collected online, plus an additional 125 signatures collected on paper forms. The signatures were collected from March 5 to March 26 with the signer's home address for verifiability. The online petition is still collecting signatures at http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/confirm_yecke.

Citizens from across the state signed the petition. Of those who specified an occupation, the largest number was represented by teachers, educators, and college professors or faculty.

The petition was originated by Matt Abe, editor of the web site Minnesota Education Reform News (http://www.gbronline.com/mnedreform/). Abe is a member of the Academic Standards Committee for social studies.

The text of the petition follows:

Cheri Pierson Yecke brings to the Minnesota Department of Education a twenty-year career of teaching and public service, as a classroom teacher, member of the Virginia Board of Education, Deputy Secretary and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, a director at the U.S. Department of Education, and senior advisor to the USA Freedom Corps.

Governor Tim Pawlenty brought Dr. Yecke to Minnesota as a “change agent,” to help restore the core academics that were left behind by the Profile of Learning, to refocus her department back on education, and to create tools that would help Minnesotans to better understand school and student performance. Within twelve months of her appointment, she is well on the way to achieving all of these goals.

Dr. Yecke is an outspoken advocate of knowledge-based academic achievement for all, and believes in the greatness of America.

We believe that the Senate should use its advise and consent role to confirm the governor's well-qualified appointees, and allow him to govern as mandated by the voters who elected him.

We believe that Dr. Yecke is clearly well-qualified to serve as Commissioner. We urge the Minnesota Senate to confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education.