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Academic Standards and The Federal Curriculum

June 27, 2003

"The Declaration of Independence has no legal status in defining people's rights and privileges," Senator Steve Kelley, in conference committee debate over establishing Minnesota Academic Standards

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a repeal of the Profile of Learning (H.F. 2) early in the 2003 legislative session. To ensure that Minnesota's new standards would be different from the Profile of Learning standards, the House established parameters for the new academic standards. The parameters included the following requirements: The academic standards must:

  • be based on factual, objective, verifiable knowledge in English, mathematics, science, and history and geography;
  • preserve and promote fundamental American principles stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and other such principles as national sovereignty, natural law, and free market enterprise;
  • not mandate a specific teaching methodology nor include work-based learning or any other content standard inconsistent with this subdivision;

    Most of the above language was deleted in the final conference report!

    The final debate on the Senate floor dramatically demonstrates what the battle over academic standards is all about. Senator Kelley, representing the DFL majority, drew a line in the sand over what parameters he would accept. Here are excerpts from the debate:

    Senator Bachmann: "Sen. Kelley, I know that the original House bill, which passed 118 to 10 - the Profile repeal - was markedly different than the parameters of the academic standards that are here before us today - I also noticed that what was missing - and this surprised me - was that the standards in the House version said to - preserve and promote fundamental American principles stated in the Declaration of Independence - Why is the Declaration of Independence missing?"

    Senator Kelley: "Sen. Bachmann... there is no question that the Declaration of Independence is a foundational document of the United States, but it doesn't have any legal standing."

    Bachmann: "Sen. Kelley, I find that an absolutely ironic statement to say that the Declaration of Independence has no legal standing. What is it we celebrate every July 4th but the Declaration of Independence? - It embodies the ideals and the principles that our nation was founded on. In fact, we could not have a Constitution or a Bill of Rights without the Declaration of Independence."

    "I also noticed missing from the House version other such principles as national sovereignty, natural law, and free market enterprise. That would be something that we would be looking at as our commissioner takes up the social studies standards. Why would the committee not include national sovereignty, natural law (referenced in the Declaration of Independence), and free market enterprise? Why would the committee fail to include such basic American principles?"

    Kelley: "Senator Bachmann, like everything that happened in committee, it was a compromise."

    Bachmann: "Well, Senator Kelley, I would hate to see us compromise away the Declaration of Independence, natural sovereignty, natural law, and free enterprise when we're talking about civics, social studies, and economics. I am very sad that these parameters are not included in this document.

    I also noticed that this document failed to include the prohibition against work-based learning, which would be in reference to School-to-Work. Why was this prohibition not included, Senator Kelley?"

    [Lengthy pause] Bachmann: "Mr. President, I wondered if Senator Kelley might yield."

    President of the Senate: "Senator Kelley will not yield."

    Bachmann: "Mr. President, there is a great concern by parents in this state regarding School-to-Work programs which were begun here in 1996, whereby it was proposed that all school districts in the state would have all 8th graders choose a career and then spend part of their school day out working in a local business. And this wasnít meant just for some students in vocational education - the intention was 100% of students would be involved in this. And it is very important to parents that work-based learning be a prohibition, and I am very sad to see that it is not in there."

    Why would Minnesota need standards parameters to preserve and promote fundamental American principles or prohibit work-based learning? Minnesota needed them because the "National Standards" (on which the rejected Profile of Learning standards were based) promote the multi-cultural view that our founding documents are mere constructs of that era. They also redefine education as job training for specific careers. Minnesotans do not want a repeat of what the Profile delivered. The Profile standards were content standards from the "National Standards," such as the National Standards for Civics and Government, The National History Standards, the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, and the federal work skills standards (SCANS). As stated in the publication Inside the New Federal Curriculum,

    From cultural diversity, to extreme environmentalism, to undermining national sovereignty, to deleting the U.S. Constitutionís 2nd amendment, to substituting our Bill of Rights with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to 8th graders choosing career pathways, the national standards are the worldview of the radical left. This is what Senator Kelley intends to incorporate back into the standards for Minnesota, and nothing in the new law prohibits that. For more information on these issues, or if you would like to help us, visit our website at EdWatch.org, or call us at 651-646-0646. Subscribe to our e-mail updates at mredco@mcleodusa.net.


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