Minnesotans for Better Education, Standards and Testing

Minnbest is a non-partisan, broad based coalition of parents, educators and school advocacy groups who believe excellent public education is a foundation of democracy in America.

2/08/2004

National reviews are in and are overwhelmingly negative!

“In order to retain our place as a leader in the nation on education, Minnesota needs to develop new rigorous academic standards. We need to get moving on building something better -- something that works. Commissioner Yecke has hit the ground running with this aggressive plan and I encourage the public to participate."

Governor Tim Pawlenty announcing plans to create new academic standards for Minnesota, January 29, 2003


Minnesota will NOT retain our place as a leader in the nation on education if proposed social studies standards are adopted! Hold Governor Pawlenty accountable to his commitment to national leadership and tell him to reject the proposed social studies standards that will put Minnesota children behind.

National Reviewer Joe Onosko's reaction to latest draft standards: (Please read his entire review at the Dept of Ed website http://education.state.mn.us/content/064324.pdf )

"As stated in my reaction to the first draft back in November, I was quite concerned about the sheer volume of information and ideas listed in the document. (I also stated that probably not a single person living in Minnesota possesses the knowledge required by the standards). I should have mentioned in November that I couldn't think of another state framework that demanded of students and teachers as much content coverage. Unfortunately, a review of the latest draft standards leaves me with the same impression, so I now feel compelled to explain more fully why these standards are detrimental to the children and educational system of Minnesota... To what extent did teachers and school administrators participate in the construction of this document? I have worked closely with teachers--either as a researcher, consultant or teacher--in eight states that range from Maine to California, and I'm convinced that all of them would say the coverage demands of the Minnesota standards would prevent the creation of meaningful and effective learning experiences for students. I strongly recommend that the committee attempt to map out how 6th grade teachers, for example, could effectively cover Minnesota history (from Paleo-Indian pre-history to the present), all of world history (1450 to the present), the geography of Minnesota, the U.S. and links to the world, and a number of "essential skills" in less than 180 hours of instruction?"

National Reviewer Erich Martel's reaction to specific benchmark requirements: (Please read his entire review at the Dept of Ed website http://education.state.mn.us/content/064322.pdf )

Benchmark: Students will understand character traits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln... in order to understand why each has been so widely respected over time.

"The entire Government and Citizenship standards for grades K-3 need to be replaced. These items should be rewritten by someone familiar with the history of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Piety is a personal matter and a behavior, not to be forced on children. It violates the legislature's prohibition against tests that measure "students' values, attitudes, and beliefs." Any child penalized for not meeting that requirement or refusing to would have legal grounds for a lawsuit."

Benchmark: Students will understand... the founders' sense of duty and honor- and how this sense of personal sacrifice was shared by all the patriots.

"Whoever wrote this could never have served in the military or read any military history. Soldiers fight for many reasons, only some of them are "sense of duty and honor... and personal sacrifice." As written, this is inaccurate and it is irresponsible to compel students to lie."

"Important Point: It is obvious that some writers have attempted to insert their personal religious views into the draft. Yet, it is telling that neither the First Great Awakening nor the Second have received much attention in the draft, despite their important roles. Their inclusion in the study of history shows how to properly include the impact of religion and religious movements in the study of history."

National Reviewer Warren Solomon's Reaction to Final Draft: (Please read his entire review at the Dept of Ed website http://education.state.mn.us/content/064325.pdf and http://education.state.mn.us/content/064394.pdf )

"There is much repetition in the history standards and benchmarks with the result that the high-school history courses devote much time to reteaching much of the content taught in earlier grades. This approach requires high-school teachers to cover a large breadth of content in their courses preventing the study of any topic in depth and preventing students from learning much in the way of recent history. As a result, if the current draft standards are implemented, Minnesota students will likely lack the historical perspective to understand many of the important current problems our nation is facing."

National Reviewer Hal Balsiger: (Please read his entire review at the Dept of Ed website http://education.state.mn.us/content/064321.pdf )

" In sections that speak to exhibiting the behaviors of good citizens, the document often suggests compliant behaviors. What happened to asking questions and soliciting multiple points of view?"

National Reviewer Jerry Martin: (Please read his entire review at the Dept of Ed website http://education.state.mn.us/content/064323.pdf )

"In short, while I understand that a public review process is healthy and may make a contribution to the final version, I would be extremely happy if my own state adopted the draft standards exactly as they are. I hope that those in charge of this process will fight to retain the essential structure and content of the outstanding draft standards."

note: While other reviewers caught factual errors like the listing of Adolf Hitler as an American leader and Andrew Jackson as part of the first political party system, Jerry Martin failed to notice and correct any. Therefore, it is questionable how thoroughly he reviewed the standards.

Governor Pawlenty can be reached through the following:

Mailing Address: Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Telephone: (651) 296-3391
(800) 657-3717

Facsimile: (651) 296-2089

E-mail: tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us

Also, cc Dept of Ed staff, legislators, and press to raise awareness of the national reviews.

Dept of Ed staff responsible for development of academic standards: Beth.Aune@state.mn.us, Charles.Skemp@state.mn.us , Cheri.Yecke@state.mn.us, Maryann.Nelson@state.mn.us

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