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.

6/04/2004

The fear that drives the Far- Right movement

A member of our coalition has been doing some thinking about the movement behind Yecke and the standards and has come up with a profound and instructive list.

These are ten fears (a list which is by no means complete) I have come across as I have participated in the process of developing state standards and in recent information about ed issues. Feel free to add to the list.

A focus on these fears takes focus off making sure kids are reading, writing, learning math, history, and other subjects necessary to prepare them for future success in school and work. While I certainly will be the first to acknowledge that I understand some of these concerns, a fanatical reaction is not necessary. We do not need to reject early childhood education, discourage writing, change the legal status of a historical document like Declaration of Independence, reject student surveys or reject any use of technology for instructional purposes. In many cases there are solutions to address the concerns and schools try to accommodate them. But these fears overshadow decision making and just as completely ignoring the concerns could result in problems, extreme responses to them can jeopardize Minnesota's education system and student's ability to take advantage of future opportunities.

Fears:

Fear #1. Student will reject family/religious values and beliefs because of higher order thinking skills which are a form of government mind control. Students don't learn to accept facts as absolute truths, and instead are encouraged to question and come to their own conclusions.

Fear #2. Children's attitudes, values, and beliefs will be influenced to a greater extent by the government than by the family/church if public education includes early childhood education.

Fear #3. Conservative students will be harshly graded on essays, especially persuasive essays, because of their values, attitudes, or beliefs.

Fear #4. Students will not fight for what is special about our country if we do not include a myth of National Sovereignty being in the Declaration of Independence, and our nation will become vulnerable and will not remain free if national sovereignty isn't included in a social studies Declaration of Independence benchmark.

Fear #5. Students will look to government for rights rather than realize they are born with self-evident, absolute-truth, natural rights. Students will become vulnerable and will not remain free if unalienable rights and self-evident truths aren't included in social studies Declaration of Independence benchmarks and aren't given legal status.

Fear #6. Students will reject family/religious values if evolution is taught as a scientific law.

Fear #7. Students will somehow have their privacy violated by a government who is collecting data through surveys of sexual activity/drug use/etc. for purposes of social engineering and job security for those in the social service profession.

Fear #8. Students will have their privacy violated if schools require technology use for instruction or assessment because the government will collect data and engage in data mining for social engineering purposes.

Fear #9. If the language arts benchmarks say that students must read literature from a variety of cultures in America, our nation will be weakened, but if the benchmark is worded that students must read a variety of American literature, we can "homogenize" (to quote from a language arts committee member) and strengthen our nation.

Fear #10. In general, the education establishment from educators to principals to superintendents to board members, are to be feared and cannot be trusted because they are all involved in numbers 1-9 above.