Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed John Hinderaker, President of the Center of the American Experiment to the newsmakers line to discuss his mission and the left-wing’s educational agenda of modifying curriculum in Minnesota’s public schools.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by our good friend the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. Good morning Crom.
Carmichael: Good morning Michael. How are you, sir?
Leahy: I am excited because this morning we have on our newsmaker line a very good friend John Hinderaker who is the head of the Center of the American Experiment. A very successful attorney up there in Minnesota. He’s got the think tank for America which is focused on Minnesota policies. We read his piece at PowerLine Blog and it was so stunning that we wanted to have him on. Good morning. John Hinderaker.
Hinderaker: Hey, good morning guys. Glad to be with you.
Leahy: Well, we can’t quite believe what you wrote but apparently it’s true. If you would be if you could describe what Governor Tim Walz, the Democrat, and his group has put together as a new set of standards for social studies grades eight through 12 in public schools in Minnesota. It’s shocking what they are going to take out and where they’re going to put in.
Leahy: Could you briefly describe it.
Hinderaker: Yes. So just to set the stage, Michael, under Minnesota law the Department of Education has to promulgate standards and benchmarks that guide the curriculum all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade. And they’ve got them divided up into different categories. Math, science, social studies, and English. And every 10 years each of those standards gets revised on a staggered basis.
So this year the social studies standard which includes history is up for revision. So the Tim Walz administration appointed a committee of just over-the-top leftists to come up with the guidelines for the public school curriculum for the next decade. And they put out the first draft of these proposed standards a week or two ago. And normally they would get very little publicity. Not many people even knew about it, you know.
But my organization we’ve got an education policy fellow Catrin Wigfall. Catrin actually read the standards and then went back and compared them to the standards that were promulgated that are still in effect from 10 years ago to see what had been added and what had been left out. So that’s the background.
So what she found is that these new standards do not include teaching about World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the American Revolution, the Civil War, communism, and socialism. And they make no mention of such notable Americans like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Well, a normal person would wonder what the heck is in the standards if those things are not? Well, the answer is…I’ll just tick off a few.
Systemic racism in the U.S. rooted in our founding. How freedom and democracy have included or excluded certain groups throughout our history. Developing a ‘respectful awareness’ of the LGBTQ plus community. The Reconstruction periods, specifically successful efforts to disenfranchise newly freed Black Americans and connecting this history to persistent discrimination and inequity in the present.
And finally in an analysis of the theology of manifest destiny and its relationship to whiteness, Christianity, and capitalism. There’s also an extraordinary amount of attention devoted to a very tendentious view of Native American history, which is itself okay except the date of Americans comprised between one and two percent of the population of Minnesota. There’s just an extraordinary amount of attention to these standards dedicated to them. And so my organization, Center of the American Experiment swung into action and we very quickly set up a website called RaiseOurStandardsMN.com.
And there’s a public comment period. And so we drove awareness of this first draft of these new social studies standards and we got more than 5000 Minnesotans to submit a comment that we drafted urging this committee to go back to the drawing board and not leave out the history of the world more or less. So let’s leave it there for the moment. That’s basically what’s happened. And then there have been some more developments since then.
Carmichael: Well, what have been the developments since then? Because it sounds to me like that the left had a pretty sophisticated plan to change your education system. And complaining about it is one thing but changing what their plans are is another. Where do you think it will end up?
Hinderaker: Well, we’ll see. So what’s happened so far is that the public comment period only lasted for about a week. More than 80 percent of all the comments that were submitted came from our website RaiseOurStandardsMN.com of this letter that we had drafted. And so this committee had a public meeting. and of course, it was by Zoom. And the stated purpose of the meeting was to review the comments that have been submitted and to discuss them.
Well as I say over 80 percent of the comments were ours and so what happened was that they didn’t discuss them at all, but took kind of a dismissive attitude. One of the members of the committee suggested that they should just delete all the comments. And the chairman of the committee said that our comments, those that were submitted in the letter that we drafted talking about these standards manifested white supremacy.
Leahy: Well, there you go. (Hinderaker laughs) I mean obviously, they cannot be heard because somebody on the left frames it as ‘white supremacists.’ What are the new developments and where will this standard go?
Hinderaker: Well, there’s a whole procedure set out under Minnesota law. And so what we’ve seen so far is the first draft. And so they’ve had their public meeting. They’ve received public comments. And now they are going to go back and prepare a second draft. And this time we’re really ready for them. I think everybody was kind of taken by surprise the first time around.
But we and a lot of other people are going to be watching carefully to see what they change in this next draft. And so there could be several rounds of this. And we’re going to drive more and more public awareness. More and more public comment to see what we can do to keep public education in our state from just going completely off the rails.
But you know one thing that I think is really interesting is you have to ask yourself what the heck? I mean, I understand they’ve got a left-wing agenda, but do liberals really not want our kids to know about the Civil War? To know about World War II? To know about the Holocaust? To know about the history of Communism? And the answer is, no they don’t.
I think that leftists really want our children to be ignorant and not to know basic facts because if they know those basic facts they are going to be a lot harder to indoctrinate. If they know about the Civil War. If they know about World Wars I and II. And if they know the history of Communism then leftism becomes I think a harder sell. And so what’s really sad about this is that it reflects a deliberate attempt on the part of the left to keep our children ignorant.
Leahy: How long do you anticipate this process will play out? Will it take a year or six months before the ‘final standards’ are established?
Hinderaker: Well, not a year. I don’t have in mind the exact timeline. But I think we’re looking at something on the order of four to six months. There are a couple of drafts yet to come.
Leahy: What level of optimism do you have that these standards will actually reflect reality and not propaganda when they’re finalized?
Hinderaker: I think they’ll be improved. I think that the public pressure that we’re going to bring to bear will have some impacts and some of the basics of history will probably be restored. I think they’ll be bad. I think they’ll include you know the leftist checklist that we’re all familiar with. The only thing that could really stop this committee from promulgating some really bad ideas is if the legislature were to intervene.
And the legislature in Minnesota, I think we have the only one in the country where there’s one House Republican and one House Democrat. The Senate’s Republican House is Democrat but by a narrow margin. And so there’s an outside chance the legislature could get involved. Certainly, I think the Senate education committee is likely to hold hearings on this and bring more public attention to it.
So, I think we’re looking at a battle for the souls of our kids and for the minds of our kids. This particular battle is going to go on for something like the next four or five months, but it’s not going to end because the left is determined to use its takeover of public education to indoctrinate the next generation.
Leahy: How strong will the legislative pushback be against this? I’ve noticed that some of the state legislators have not really exercised the powers that they have when it comes to education.
Hinderaker: No, you’re right. I don’t know how strong it’ll be. I’d be surprised if we don’t get a hearing or two. I don’t know. I think there are very very few Democrats who are actually opposed to this kind of leftist indoctrination. I think almost all Democrats are behind it. And so it won’t take many. The House in Minnesota is very close. And so if a few Democrats defect maybe something can be done. But there aren’t many Democrats who resist this kind of anti-Americanism.
Leahy: It sounds like the question isn’t really whether bad history standards will be established for students K12 in Minnesota. I guess the question is how bad will they be? do we read that right?
Hinderaker: Oh, I think so. I think so. There’s no way that the committee that the Walz administration has put together, which as I said before the break really consists of far-leftist representatives of far-left organizations predominantly. They’re not going to come out with a good set of standards which by the way there once we have it affect right now are pretty good. And it’s really sad to see them eroded like this.
Leahy: What will happen to public education in Minnesota when these varying degrees of bad new history standards are being implemented? Will parents revolt or will they leave? What will happen to public education?
Hinderaker: It’s really interesting Michael because, in Minnesota, I think this is true in most states if you ask people in the abstract about the public schools, most people say they are good but not great. But if they are asked about their schools that their kids go to they’ll say, oh, yeah, they’re terrific. And in Minnesota there’s been I think some delusional thinking about the quality of our public schools.
They’ve generally enjoyed very very high approval ratings and so on. Now one of the interesting things about the COVID shutdowns, is that that started a new road because Minnesotans who have kids in the public schools have had real problems with the schools shut down and with remote learning working very poorly for most students and not working at all for maybe a third. More and more parents have had to look at alternatives.
And so we’re seeing a real upsurge in charter schools and private schools and homeschooling. And my organization the Center of the American Experiment does polling. And for the first time, we’re seeing a lot of Minnesotans unhappy with the public schools and also understanding the baleful role of the teachers union, which is the main driver of lousy public education.
So so I don’t know the answer to your question Michael. But we are seeing unrest. we are seeing rapidly growing interest in alternatives to the public schools. And I think to the extent that we can publicize what’s going on and rive awareness and opposition to it. Hopefully, it will accelerate those trends.
Leahy: Crom was going to ask you a question.
Carmichael: Do you anticipate it changing anything at the ballot box?
Hinderaker: Crom I wonder what is it going to take to change things at the ballot box? I mean we’ve been seeing failed liberal policies in my state, you know, we’ve been a blue state now for quite a while and we’re seeing below-average economic growth. We’re going to lose in all probability a congressional district because our population hasn’t kept pace.
If you look at the demographics every year in Minnesota on net losses of middle income and upper-income citizens and gains of only lower-income citizens, which is not a sustainable business plan. And so you ask yourself, what’s it going to take for people to understand that there’s a pattern here and that they’re being poorly governed?
You know, we saw the city of Minneapolis go up in flames last summer. Two miles of Lake Street burned and it still burned. Nothing has been done to reconstruct it. There’s no money evidently there for reconstruction. Our state government as well as the city government responded with incredible incompetence. But there it is. You keep waiting for people to wake up.
Carmichael: Well, it’s an interesting phenomenon for me to see a place like Minneapolis that had all of the terrible things happen this summer. And the Democrats control Minneapolis and they control the state. And yet Minnesota voted for Biden. I will tell you that the question that you asked, you wonder what it’s going to take to cause people to change. (Laughs)
I think that’s a great question. It’s a great question. When I’m talking to somebody with whom I disagree I ask them that question, I say what facts could be presented to you that would cause you to change your mind? And they refuse to answer the question. And so it sounds to me like Minnesotans refuse to answer the question.
Hinderaker: Yeah, that’s a really interesting point. And that’s a great question to ask. One of the things that are happening is that you know, we’re like California and New York and some other states in that we’re losing a lot of the people who we need to stay here to help make a change. If the sensible people sell out and move, change gets that much harder to bring about.
Leahy: Where are you seeing people move to from Minnesota?
Hinderaker: My organization has studied this extensively starting in 2016. The answer is lower-tax states. all of the net in-migration to Minnesota comes from high-taxed states like New York and Illinois. and the net out-migration which is larger than the in-migration substantially all of it goes to lower-tax states like, South Dakota, Texas. And Tennessee’s on the list. I know a number of people that have moved to Tennessee.
Leahy: And they listen to our program by the way. (Chuckles)
Hinderaker: Yeah. And Florida is another one. I mean all kinds of Minnesotans, you know moved to Florida. The consistent pattern the other one the exception that proves the rule as Washington State. People think Washington is a blue State and in many ways, it is but guess what? They don’t have a state income tax. So we have a net out-migration of people from Minnesota. 10 percent top rate for personal income tax and the third highest corporate income tax in the country. every year We have an out-migration of people to Washington. Yeah, it may be blue but they don’t have a state income tax.
Leahy: Why did the greater Minnesota the area outside of Minneapolis in the suburbs, why did they not show up in greater amounts to put Donald Trump over the top in 2020?
Hinderaker: Well, I think they did show up. I mean turnout in Minnesota was just off the charts and we can only speculate. I think the real turnout was in fact off the charts. But we like most states we had this massive campaign for mail-in voting. And we had our Secretary of State’s office sending out the ballot applications to an archaic and obviously bad registered voter list.
And so there were goodness knows how many thousands of ballot applications just floating around addressed to people who either have died or who never existed or who have moved to other states. And we’ll never know how many fake ballots got submitted. I think there was a terrific turnout on the right. The problem is there was also a terrific turnout on the left.
Leahy: Perhaps aided by some changes in election procedures.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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