The second draft of the Department of Education’s social studies academic standards has been released and some of the content is rather concerning.
These standards that are being developed will govern the lessons in social studies, civics, history, and government classes Minnesota children will receive for the next decade. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with what the state is proposing and provide comments before a final draft is established this fall for implementation in coming years.
The first draft of the standards was released in December of 2020. It read like a political statement focused on identity politics and decentering “whiteness” while portraying racism and slavery as uniquely European or American concepts.
The second draft was released July 30 and it, too, is rather concerning. While the Department of Education indicates Critical Race Theory is not included in any current or proposed Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards, ethnic studies has been added as one of five major educational strands – right alongside legally required lessons on citizenship and government, economics, geography, and U.S and world history.
This comes across as a blatant attempt to replace academic rigor with a political agenda. The new set of standards sets schools on a course to train students to be social justice warriors with a call to action to work toward an “equitable future” without clarifying or defining what is considered equitable.
“Critical Race Theory” may not be mentioned by name in the latest draft, but there are aspects of the standards draft which seem to align with its perceived legal codification of racism in America. One benchmark is to “Examine the benefits and consequences of power and privilege on issues associated with poverty, income, and the accumulation of wealth.”
The overall theme of the standards is to diminish any hint of American greatness or exceptionality, and thus the role of America as a force for liberation and freedom are excluded in favor of a narrative framing America as an imperial or exploitive nation.
Students are asked to analyze key events, persons, or institutions without any clarity on the essential knowledge or skills the student is expected to actually know and understand.
Other considerations on the draft standards include:
Our education system works best when families and parents are involved in the decision-making process. With this in mind, I strongly urge you to review the education standards being proposed by the Department of Education, provide your input in an online survey and contact your local school officials.
The survey closes at 4 p.m. Aug. 16.