by Evan Stambaugh
A new report shows how Minnesota’s proposed social studies standards are “unacceptably politicized” and “deficient.”
Earlier this week the Center of the American Experiment published a report by historian and academic Wilfred McClay titled “Minnesota’s Academic Standards Among the Nation’s Worst.”
McClay, tasked to evaluate the third draft of the Minnesota Department of Education’s K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies, concluded that “the standards are so deeply flawed that mere revision will fail to make them compatible with the fundamental aims of civic education.”
“Can these Standards be repaired, adjusted, and made compatible with the fundamental aims of civic education as it has been? I do not think so,” McClay wrote in the report. “I think they are so fundamentally flawed that the only solution is to jettison them and start over, using the 2004 Standards as a guideline for how the next revision should be done.”
Furthermore, McClay called for the total “elimination” of the standards’ “Ethnic Studies” component, asserting that “nothing will be lost” and “much will be gained” by following this recommendation.
The 18-page report argues that the proposed social studies standards represent a significant downgrade from the 2004 standards, which McClay claimed were “universally regarded as a model for the nation.”
McClay found the drafted 2021 standards to be “motivated by radical, even revolutionary, political ideology.”
For instance, the Ethnic Studies component throughout all grade levels mentions “resistance” as a key standard for Minnesota students.
The “resistance” standard reads: “Describe how individuals and communities have fought for freedom and liberation against systemic and coordinated exercises of power locally and globally; identify strategies or times that have resulted in lasting change; and organize with others to engage in activities that could further the rights and dignity of all.”
According to the report, other standards have eliminated teaching the “basic facts” about European and American history and will force students to “examine every question or moral conflict primarily in terms of race and group identity.”
In a Wednesday statement, Center of the American Experiment policy fellow Catrin Wigfall commended McClay’s report for its “blunt assessment of Minnesota’s standards” and hoped the Department of Education would “return to the drawing board and start over.”
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.
Photo “Social Studies Class” by Minnesota Department of Education.