Important MN, IN, and ID Common Core Standards Information

Karen R. Effrem, MD, Education Liberty Watch

Today is the day we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, no longer mentioned by the Minnesota social studies standards, and which were given an F grade by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their poor teaching of the civil rights movement. As we remember this important day in American history, Education Liberty Watch wishes to express its profound gratitude to the hundreds of parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens, as well as the experts, legislators, attorneys, and groups that participated in the public hearing and comment process for the Minnesota social studies standards. 364 of you signed our petition in five days. Eleven legislators, listed and some quoted below, including Senate Minority Leader David Hann, made formal comments opposing the standards, while none commented in support of them. Four current or past college professors submitted formal comments against these standards and another wrote in the Star Tribune on Jan. 18th even after the formal comment period had closed. The Department of Education responded responded to the comments received by January 9th. Education Liberty Watch provided a rebuttal to their response as did Representatives Sondra Erickson and Kelby Woodard , Dr. John Fonte , and American Principles in Action , all showing how the Department failed to adequately respond to the myriad concerns raised. It is now up to the judge who must decide by about February 15th whether the rule containing the standards is acceptable. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile as Minnesota fights against the revisionist history and further implementation of the Common Core standards via the link to the English standards, citizens are taking up the battle against big government education in Indiana. More than 500 people came during work and school to a rally opposing that state’s Common Core standards in English and math. Senator Scott Schneider has introduced a bill (SB 193) to withdraw Indiana from the Common Core standards. After the rally there was a four and a half hour hearing. The vote that was expected in the Senate Education Committee on January 23rd has been moved. We will alert you when we know. (Local media coverage is available here ). Please see below for details on contacting the Indiana Senate Education Committee. In addition, the Idaho House Education Committee heard more testimony against the Common Core and teachers are speaking out about the destruction of math and English teaching, their professionalism, autonomy, and creativity. As with Obamacare, the Common Core will have to be resisted on the state level. Please continue to join us in this fight!


Before more excellent testimony and rebuttal regarding the Minnesota social studies standards is quoted below, please consider contacting and urging any friends and family in Indiana to contact members of the Indiana Senate Education Committee and support Senator Schneider’s bill S.B. 193.  The bill will receive its vote sometime after January 23rd. Many subject matter experts have written and testified about how Indiana has taken a step backward by tossing its nationally acclaimed standards for fuzzy math, no algebra in eighth grade, less great literature, and no teaching of cursive handwriting.  Help protect academic excellence, state sovereignty, and local control.

Indiana Senate Education Committee (If a specific number was available, that was listed, otherwise the Legislative switchboard number of 800-382-9467 was listed):

Chairman: Senator Dennis Kruse (R-14) [email protected] 317-233-0930

Senator Carlin Yoder (R-12) [email protected] 317-232-9984
Senator Jim Banks (R-17)  [email protected] 317-232-9808
Senator Jim Buck (R-21) [email protected] 317-232-9466
Senator Luke Kenley (R-20) [email protected] 317-232-9453
Senator Pete Miller (R-24) [email protected] 317-232-9414
Senator Jean Leising (R-42) [email protected] 317-234-9054
Senator Scott Schneider (R-30) [email protected] 800-382-9467
Senator Earline Rogers (D-3) [email protected]  (800) 382-9467
Senator John Broden (D-10) [email protected] (800) 382-9467
Senator Frank Mrvan (D-1) [email protected] (800) 382-9467
Senator Greg Taylor (D-33) [email protected] (800) 382-9467

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More Minnesota Testimony:Written Testimony of Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), cosigned by Senators Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville), Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), and Bill Weber (R-Luverne): 

Obviously, Legislators and the Governor were not intending to – and did not – grant the Department regulators a rule-making “blank check” in order to undo the difficult compromises reached in 2003 and 2004. Further, the law (120B.023, Subd. 1(c)) requires “specific legislative authorization” to make any changes to the benchmarks, which is different from the “general rulemaking authority” the Department claims it possesses under 120B.02 (SONAR, page 14).

Written Testimony of Senator Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge and Minority Lead of the Senate Education Finance Division)

As stated in the testimony of Education Liberty Watch, there are three federal laws that prohibit federal supervision, direction, or control of school curricula. In my opinion the CCSSI violate these laws. It is my assertion that the “literacy standards” in the ELA are a Trojan horse to impose Common Core national standards into other subjects such as history and social studies, further aggravating the autonomy of the state.

Not only should policy makers, parents and schools resist this encroachment on our authority by allowing Common Core national standards to seep into state standards but increasingly, the Supreme Court is acknowledging the limits on the Federal Government’s attempts to increase its authority over states education authority…

…Federal funding of education involves major, preexisting and ongoing programs. The NFIB ruling helped clarify the limits of how far the federal government can go in “modifying the terms and conditions of major preexisting programs” when it struck down the Medicaid expansion mandate. It seems to me the Supreme Court opinion strengthens both my own argument and that of others that the Department of Education’s proposed is not only unwarranted but increasingly dangerous to the rights of parents and schools. It is both moral tradition and the opinion of the United States Supreme Court that parents are the “first teachers” of their children and by extension of that right, then the local school district. The standards being proposed by the Department’s proposed rule pushes the envelope of their authority and threatens the moral and legal authority of the family and the local schools. The body of testimony before you provides a profoundly compelling argument, in my opinion, forewarning the risk to the rights of both parents and local schools and justifies this court in denying their adoption.

Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton & Minority Lead of House Eduction Policy Committee) and Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine & Minority Lead of House Education Finance Committee)

The rewrite of the current standards goes well beyond making revisions or alignments, but represents not only wholly new concepts for students to be taught, but a significant shift in methodology, and thus far exceeds the mandate of the legislature.

Education Liberty Watch would also like to mention and thank Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista. See page 1 of linked PDF), the immediate past Chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester. See page 70 of linked PDF), the immediate past vice-chairwoman and current Ranking Minority Member of the same committee for their excellent hearing requests. We have already quoted Rep. Cindy Pugh’s great oral testimony.

Rebuttal to the Minnesota Department of Education Response:

Education Liberty Watch:
In the Response, the Department complained twice (pages 2 and 6), “It is important to note that many of the issues voiced at the hearing, [including this concern about statutory authority to so extensively rewrite the standards] were not raised to a substantive degree during either of the two public comment periods or at any other time during the official review process. ” This complaint is neither logical nor correct. The final day for public comment during the “official review process” was May 8, 2011. The final version of the standards to be put into rule was not released until February 17, 2012, a very long period of nine months later. The SONAR with the statutory and other justifications was not released until October 29 2012, another eight and a half months after that, or a total of seventeen and three quarters months after the last public comment was accepted. The whole purpose of rulemaking with its Dual Notice, Request for Hearing, and Public Hearing processes are to allow the public to examine the final proposed rule, digest and respond to the agency’s justification, and make comments throughout the entire period allowed by law. It is completely unreasonable to complain that the public did not raise issues “to a substantive degree” during the formal review process when opportunity for public comment during the review process ended so long before the final rule product and documentation were available for review.

Dr. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute:
Second, the Response often dismisses complaints with the catch all argument that “we couldn’t list everything important, but these other issues and events will still be taught.” Of course, this is a truism; the department could not list everything. But the department is supposed to tell us what it considers the most significant concepts and events that students should examine. It is supposed to explicitly tell us the “big picture.” If not, there is simply no serious objective standard in which to judge any of the revisions that the department has undertaken. If the excuse is always “we can’t list everything, but it will be taught,” then it would not be possible to distinguish between what is major and what is minor. In that case, what is the purpose of having “big picture” standards in the first place?

American Principles in Action:
If the Committee aligned the social studies standards with Common Core’s ELA standards – as in fact the Department touts – then whoever controls those ELA standards will also control at least a part of the Minnesota social studies standards. And the people controlling the ELA standards are not Minnesotans – they are DC-based trade associations and the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Moreover, especially through its funding of the national tests aligned with Common Core, USED is violating three federal statutes by supervising, directing, or controlling the ELA curriculum in Minnesota schools. First ELA standards, then ELA-aligned social studies standards – the tentacles of illegal federal control reach further into what the Constitution intended to be under the control of Minnesota alone.

Representatives Erickson and Woodard:
On page two of the Department’s response dated January 9th, 2013, the Department claims to have “general rulemaking authority” under Minnesota Statute 120B.02…Reading the Chapter in its entirety rather than in piecemeal fashion, the Department will find that its rulemaking authority is not “general” but is in fact quite limited and specific.


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.


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