Fordham gives Pawlenty's ed reform vision an "A"

Former Minnesota education commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke broke a few eggs during her tenure in an attempt to make an education reform omelet, by implementing Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ambitious education reform agenda.

One of the hallmarks of Yecke's tenure was replacing the process-oriented Profile of Learning graduation standards with a new set of content-oriented academic standards in English, mathematics, social studies, and science. Yecke's standards creation process was transparent and rapid — the mirror image of the process used to create the Profile of Learning. The results satisfied the public's hunger for teaching both skills and knowledge, process and content, to Minnesota's public school students.

Last week, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation awarded Minnesota's Academic Standards in World History with a grade of "A." The full text of the Fordham report, "The State of State World History Standards 2006," is available on the Fordham Foundation web site. The previous Profile of Learning standards earned a grade of "F" shortly before they were replaced by the current standards.

According to the report:
The recently approved and substantially improved Minnesota state standards begin by saying, "Public education in Minnesota must help students gain the knowledge and skills that are necessary to protect and maintain freedom." They aspire to specify "the particular knowledge and skills that Minnesota students will be required to learn." They suggest that the purpose of world history is to help students "recognize the common problems of all humankind, and the increasing interactions among nations and civilizations that have shaped much of human life." In that vein, they point out how the "increasing connections" make world history of critical importance "in fostering the respect and understanding required in a connected and interdependent world."

The revised standards deliver on much of this ambitious promise and will serve the current generation of Minnesota students well.

"Many Minnesotans devoted a great deal of hard work to these standards. They should all be proud about this excellent review of their work," current Minnesota Commissioner of Education Alice Seagren said in a press release. "Our current standards help Minnesota students understand the history that shapes their world, the traditions they have inherited, and the lessons of the past so they can meet the challenges of the future."