The Center of the American Experiment helped 17,000 Minnesotans provide feedback to the Social Studies Standards Committee by yesterday’s deadline. The committee is meeting today to consider public comments. Although it missed its own February deadline by six months for the publication of the second draft, the Minnesota Department of Education gave the public just over two weeks to read the 168-page document and provide guidance. comments.
MDE commentators objected to “the direct application of Critical Race Theory (CRT) evident throughout the second project, particularly with the addition of an ethnic studies component.” The theme of oppression, marginalization, group identity and absent narratives is at the origin of the second draft of norms and benchmarks. Students will learn that their self-concept centers on their racial / gender group identity and that limiting narratives of oppression, not facts, are the lens through which all social studies content must be viewed.
The comments also detailed specific standards and benchmarks that should be rewritten or eliminated in the following categories:
Remove the ethnic studies component
Ethnic studies is defined by the MDE as “understanding multiple perspectives”, but the language used in the second version of this component openly emphasizes oppression and marginalization.
Similar to the draft of one of the social studies standards, the second draft lacks positive language regarding the United States of America and how it compares to other countries around the world.
History Standards 18 and 20 and Ethnic Studies Standard 22 set the stage for this theme by asking students to “assess dominant and non-dominant narratives”… “and why some narratives have been marginalized while d ‘others were not’; consider “what perspectives and stories are missing”; and “reflect on the roots of contemporary social and environmental systems of oppression”.
There are at least 60 specific references dedicated to teaching Indigenous or Indigenous perspectives. Indigenous peoples are the only cultural group specifically identified and “focused” in the standards document.
The current policy in the second draft
The social studies standards set the stage for what students will learn over the next 10 years, so current political issues should not be forced into the benchmarks.
The American Experiment website at www.RaiseOurStandardsMN.com was used to send feedback on the second draft. The 17,000 comments eclipsed the comments in the first draft, which resulted in 6,000 comments to the committee.
According to Education Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall, improvements were made to the second draft, including the elimination of derogatory references to “whiteness” and the introduction of more objective historical facts, including key facts from First and Second. World Wars and the Holocaust. These improvements are a direct result of feedback from the Raise Our Standards campaign.
“Although better, the proposed second draft standards and benchmarks still lack significant historical content and include inappropriate themes that would lead Minnesota education in the wrong direction,” Wigfall said. “The new project continues to manifest a negative and even hateful attitude toward the United States and its history with an emphasis on systemic racism, group identity, and a zero-sum power struggle between racial groups.”
In fact, the framework for critical race theory is found throughout the Second Draft of Social Studies Standards.
“The Department of Education and the committee have shown a willingness to listen during the first round, so we remain hopeful that they will not ignore the voices of thousands of Minnesotans demanding a change in the second draft.”
While the rulemaking process continues for social studies standards, the legislature and Governor Tim Walz passed a law in the 2021 session that suspended implementation of all academic standards until post 2023. “For more than 30 years, the Center has created and championed policies that make Minnesota a freer, more prosperous and better governed state.