Congratulations and thank you very much to all of you who took your precious time to help preserve the teaching of American principles and heritage of freedom! Your hard work has paid off! The scheduled December 20th hearing on the Minnesota social studies standards will proceed. Please see below for details. Both to those who sent in a request who may wish to add more information and to those that care about this issue but were not able to submit a request, please know that you may attend the hearing and give oral testimony or submit written testimony that day or while the hearing record is open. More information will soon follow.
The hearing requests that were sent to us contained many excellent reasons for opposing these standards. As an example, here is a quote from the chairman of History at Bethany Lutheran College, Professor Ryan MacPherson's request posted with his permission (the full request is available here):
As a college professor who instructs students pursuing Minnesota licensure for elementary and secondary education, I am concerned that the 2011 proposal will not adequately ensure that K-12 schools meet the stated objectives of preparing the rising generation for citizenship, higher education, and employment. My specialty is American history, including constitutional law. I am alarmed that the 2011 proposal removes references to the natural, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property and that the 2011 proposal also loses the emphasis, present in the 2004 rules, that it is government's chief purpose to secure these natural rights. The 2004 rules, attentive to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, included these fundamental principles in multiple Benchmarks and Examples. To consider another example, the 2011 proposal also entirely removes all references to Abraham Lincoln and to his Gettysburg address, topics which appeared in multiple required Benchmarks in the 2004 rules. Not only will high school graduates be under-prepared for American civic life without an understanding of these important aspects of our national heritage, but they also will be ill equipped for college coursework.
My concerns about the 2011 proposal are not limited to American history and government. The 2011 proposal surprisingly relegates the Renaissance to a merely optional Example, whereas in 2004 the Renaissance appeared in multiple mandatory Standards and Benchmarks; the 2004 rules in fact classified several Standards under the title "Renaissance and Reformation," whereas the 2011 proposal marginalizes both of these important movements of world history and requires, obliquely, that students "understand that hemispheric networks intensified as a result of innovations ... [during the years] 600-1450," a Standard for which not a single Benchmark specifically requires any knowledge whatsoever of the Renaissance. Strangely, the 2011 proposal adds as Examples a number of relatively obscure historical persons and events, while jettisoning all references, present in the 2004 Examples, to Confucius, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Joan of Arc, Christopher Columbus, Leondardo da Vinci, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, William Penn, Thomas Paine, Sacagawea, Chief Joseph, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Theodore Roosevelt, Adolph Hitler, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mao Zedong, Margaret Thatcher, and Osama bin Ladin. Cultural literacy requires that a person be familiar with at least most of these individuals, who together represent a diverse spectrum of our international and American heritage. Such cultural literacy is foundational for multiple career paths, as well as for civic participation more broadly, not to mention a wide variety of college majors in the humanities and social sciences.
Now that your hard work has paid off in bringing about the public hearing, here are the details from the Department of Education:
The Department will hold a public hearing in room CC-15, Minnesota Department of Education, 1500 Highway 36 West, Roseville, Minnesota, 55113, starting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012...The hearing will continue until all interested persons have been heard. Administrative Law Judge Barbara Nielson is assigned to conduct the hearing. Judge Nielson can be reached at the Office of Administrative Hearings, 600 North Robert Street, P.O. Box 64620, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55164-0620, telephone 651-361-7845, and FAX 651-361-7936.
If [Now it is WHEN] the Department holds a hearing, you and all interested or affected persons, including representatives of associations or other interested groups, will have an opportunity to participate. You may present your views, either orally at the hearing or in writing at any time before the hearing record closes. All evidence presented should relate to the proposed rules. You may also submit written material to the Administrative Law Judge to be recorded in the hearing record for five working days after the public hearing ends. At the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge may order that this five-day comment period be extended for a longer period but not more than 20 calendar days. Following the comment period, there is a five-working-day rebuttal period when the agency and any interested person may respond in writing to any new information submitted. No one may submit additional evidence during the five-day rebuttal period. The Office of Administrative Hearings must receive all comments and responses submitted to the Administrative Law Judge no later than 4:30 p.m. on the due date. All comments or responses received will be available for review at the Office of Administrative Hearings. This rule hearing procedure is governed by Minnesota Rules, parts 1400.2000 to 1400.2240, and Minnesota Statutes, sections 14.131 to 14.20. You may direct questions about the procedure to the Administrative Law Judge.
Taking a stand against these standards is essential. Without better civic, historical, and economic understanding, our nation will continue down its current path to financial ruin and tyranny.
More information on ideas for potential testimony will be following soon. Thank you again!