Report on Minnesota Social Studies Standards Hearing

Karen R. Effrem, MD, Education Liberty Watch

Many thanks to all who were able to give oral testimony at the December 20th social studies standards hearing. The large hearing room at the Minnesota Department of Education building was nearly full. The vast majority of testifiers were overwhelmingly opposed to the new standards. Witnesses were armed with facts and passionate eloquence. Department officials seemed surprised and a little dismayed at the level, intensity and detail of the opposition.

Although we do not have all the testimony that was presented, we were able to obtain some of it from those that graciously provided it.

See below for links and quotes from some of this excellent testimony. In addition, negative comments about the standards are coming in from several important groups and individuals. The judge has granted the full 20 days period for written comments, meaning the record will close on January 9th. Details for submitting written comments may be found here.

If you cannot do written comments, we will have more information about a petition just after Christmas.

Thank you for your support! May all of the joys and blessings of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year come to you and yours.

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Witnesses against the standards included parents, grandparents, business owners, a former citizen of communist Poland, two college professors, a former AP biology teacher, and two legislators. Education Liberty Watch’s testimony was delivered by attorney Marjorie Holsten.

In addition, there have been important comments from the Minnesota House Republican leadership, new commentary from Dr. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute as we previously mentioned, and important testimony from the American Principles Project about the link of these social studies to the Common Core English standards. All of these are also quoted and linked below.

As witnessed by the length of time it has taken to get out this report, we know it is very busy this time of year. To that end, we hope to introduce some sort of petition mechanism to help you weigh in against these awful standards and still spend this important time with your family and friends. More news will be forthcoming.

Finally, we do know that it is a busy time of year and this is a bad economy, but there are monetary costs to the work that we do. Any tax deductible financial help that can be directed to Education Liberty Watch as you consider your year end giving so that we may continue to stand for academic excellence, perpetuating our republic and protecting the rights of parents to raise their children would be most appreciated.


Education Liberty Watch Prepared Oral Testimony Delivered by Marjorie Holsten

“Based on the forgoing as well as the more detailed information we will submit, we believe that for the sake of academic rigor, the cultural literacy and ability of Minnesota students to function as citizens able to maintain the freedoms of our republic, the fulfillment of legislative intent, and state autonomy, that these standards should be rejected or at least significantly modified and that the 2004 standards should be kept until that happens. Thank you.”

Remarks Prepared for Oral Testimony of Representative-Elect Cindy Pugh

“Finally as a newly elected legislator about to be sworn in for the first time, it pains me to see violations of legislative intent, as well as how state sovereignty is being violated in education both by the mandates of No Child Left Behind and the creeping imposition of a national curriculum via the linking of the Common Core English standards to the social studies standards.”

Oral Testimony of Citizen Donald Lee

“Similarly sterile, is the wording in Substrand 4: United States History, where we read that the American Revolution resulted from ‘The divergence of colonial interests from those of England.’ Really? The heroes of our revolution fought and died over a divergence of interests?

These statements are not factually false, but they reveal a concerted effort by the writers to be culturally neutral–to treat history as an object of scientific curiosity, rather than a distillation of human experience and wisdom to be passed on to our descendants.”

Oral Testimony of Julie Quist:

“This central idea within the Declaration of Independence articulates our identity, that which binds us together as a nation and defines what uniquely it means to be an American. Our country, our Republic, isn’t united by race. We aren’t united by religion. We are united by our civil creed that rocked the world in the 18th century-All men are created equal, rights to life, to liberty and to property-rights that governments may and do often violate, but that remain our rights nonetheless.

Throughout these standards, instead, rights are continually referred to as “individual” rights. A world of difference exists between individual rights which are created by government, which may be legislated away, and rights with which we came into this world. Civics Standard #5 states that citizenship rights are created by laws. While there is certainly some truth to that statement, the standards never distinguish what rights are inalienable, rights protected by government, not bestowed by government.”

Oral Testimony of Carter Glendenning:

“This country was founded on liberty including religion. Most all the early writings of this country –from the 1600’s thru the writings of Ronald Reagan have a salute to the Almighty & thanking him. This document is written as though there is no religion, but there is! Whenever tragedy comes, the first things American people do is go to church. This document is in denial. I would expect this document to be written in Russia in the 1920’s, not here.

While talking of the struggles of the women here and around the world, there is no mention of the whipping, stoning, beating & isolation given women by men in the Islamic world as well as in America as they follow their Sharia law.”

Oral Testimony of Greg O’Connor:

“My purpose is to request changes which will clarify in the standards, and more accurately present to the students, the unique type of government structure we have in this country. It is not a “democracy” as stated 17 times in the document we are reviewing, but is in fact a constitutional republic, which is not once mentioned…

…James Madison, who is widely referred to as the ‘Father of our Constitution,’ wrote as follows, ‘…Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.'”


Letter from Minnesota House Incoming Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Incoming Minority Lead of the House Education Finance Committee:

“Among the several deficiencies in these proposed standards is an overall de-emphasis on the contributions of the United States and our economic and political ideals. Through out the entire set of civics and history standards, there is virtually no mention of of the values of American patriotism. The Cold War seems to be reframed simply as a struggle between competing economic and political systems. Just as critical, there is mention of Osama Bin Laden, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the global war on terror, or even the events of September 11, 2001. Students in Minnesota public schools may never learn about the heinous attack on our country that occurred on September 11th. They may never learn of recent United States involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan or the significant contributions of our own Red Bulls in these conflicts.”

American Principles in Action:

“The creators and proponents of CCSSI assured skeptical states from the beginning that the Common Core standards are only for ELA and mathematics. Indeed, many states signed on to CCSSI with that understanding, and with the belief that they would still be able to control their own standards in other subject areas. The proposed Minnesota social standards illustrate the folly of that belief. Just as the decision to adopt CCSSI ELA standards is now influencing social studies, it will inevitably affect science and other subjects in the future. If these social studies standards are adopted, Minnesota will be more inextricably entangled in the unlawful federally controlled curriculum. For this reason, APIA urges the Department of Education to revisit these proposed standards to respect the rights of Minnesota parents and local officials to exercise full control over their social studies standards.”

John Fonte in National Review Online:

“The Minnesota Standards are a clear warning to the National Governors Association, the Chief State School Officers, the Gates Foundation, the Obama administration and all the others involved in the development of the Common Core Standards. What type of Common Core Standards should we expect in history and social studies? One wonders.

In 1995, an earlier attempt at National History Standards by civic educators was so biased that it was rejected by the U.S. Senate in an overwhelming bipartisan 99-1 vote including Minnesota’s two senators at the time, Democrat Paul Wellstone and Republican Rod Grams.

In short, any development of American-citizenship education (history/social studies) standards should involve elected legislators in the states, which have the responsibility for education under the Constitution. Citizenship education for American students is too important to be left to academics, professional educators, business leaders, and federal and state bureaucrats.”

The Moral Liberal Guest Editor, Dr. Karen R. Effrem, is President of Education Liberty Watch. Dr. Effrem is a pediatrician, researcher, and conference speaker. Her medical degree is from Johns Hopkins University and her pediatric training from the University of Minnesota. She has provided testimony for Congress, as well as in-depth analysis of numerous pieces of major federal education, health, and early childhood legislation for congressional staff, state legislatures, and many organizations. Dr. Effrem serves on the boards of four national organizations: Education Liberty Watch, the Alliance for Human Research Protection, The International Society for Ethical Psychiatry and Psychology, and the National Physicians Center.