Minnesota’s proposed Social Studies Standards amount to a state mandated curriculum that is unfortunate because it is inadequate and inaccurate, educators told the Public Policy Forum at Lucille’s Kitchen, last week. "These standards will actually lay the foundation for what is taught to our children in the schools. Minnesota’s proposed Social Studies Standards amount to a state mandated curriculum that is unfortunate because it is inadequate and inaccurate, educators told the Public Policy Forum at Lucille’s Kitchen, last week. "These standards will actually lay the foundation for what is taught to our children in the schools. Whenever you have something that is state mandated, it is difficult for people in the community to have something to say about it," said Professor Valerie Geaither, a North Minneapolis resident and parent who teaches at Metropolitan State University.
Geaither’s guest commentary detailing why Minnesotans should reject the proposed Social Studies Standards appeared in Insight News, the week of February 2, 2003. It is available online at www.insightnews.com/search.
"These new standards are expected to go the legislature this session and to be approved. They are not adequate. Too often we assume that the people who are the experts, who are supposed to know their craft, have all of the answers. We leave a lot in their hands probably because we don’t have the time or the energy to really investigate what’s going on behind the scenes," she said.
"Once they implement the Standards, once they have become law, we have to live with them," she said.
Geaither said the Standards are flawed in process and content. "The people who were selected to write the Standards have a particular political agenda, an ideology. So what we get reflects a particular ideology. That ideology is going to be conveyed in very subtle but also very direct ways to our children. Some people ask, ‘Why are you so concerned about the Social Studies Standards versus writing or reading? The writing and reading are the fundamentals, the basics. Social Studies is a sideline,’’’ she said.
"Well, Social Studies is not a sideline. It is really the essence of our education because it informs who we are and who we can be," she said.
Professor Paul Spies, also of Metropolitan State University, said the proposed Standards contain and present as the historical truth, factually incorrect information.
For example, Spies said, the Standards suggest Black populations in United States are a consequence major "immigration" in the 1800’s. The standards don’t say government sponsored and supported public policy that legalized human enslavement, and the theft of human beings from their African homelands, created the African presence in America.
"It is an issue of being correct," Geaither said. "And we can be correct without overburdening teachers and weighing down the curriculum. We are concerned about Standards in terms of them becoming the ‘model’ or being the ‘prescription’ for who we are and how we should think. Standards homogenize, standardize.
These standards are somewhat racist because of the material that is included, the omissions and the distortions."
Spies said he organized formal opposition to the proposed Standards, a day before the Commissioner of Education’s first public hearing on the Standards at St. Paul Central High School, September 22, 2003. "That day before the hearing six other people and I who are concerned about the standards founded Minnesotans Against Proposed Social Studies Standards (MAPSSS)."
"We brought our petition to that first public hearing. When we heard 90% of the people who spoke at that hearing speak vehemently against the proposed standards – their objections ranging from ‘too costly,’ ‘too much rote memorization,’ to ‘lower-level thinking,’ and to ‘culturally, racially biased,’ our movement was born and energized," he said.
Since then, he said, "We collected 1,700 signatures from 190 different communities in the state. We started a new petition on January 30, 2004.We have already 650 signa