Reader letter

The Minnesota Department of Education is overhauling the standards and benchmarks for teaching social studies to our children. A first working draft has been released.

These standards and benchmarks are intended to set the framework for statewide classroom instruction. The changes as proposed remove parts of the curriculum, particularly history, and increase focus on things that divide people into sub-groups: identity politics. I think we should focus on the things we hold in common, things that bind us together as a nation, rather than divide. Our national motto is ‘E Pluribus Unum’ after all.

Reviewing the proposed standards reveals several concerning omissions and additions in both topics and tone. Some examples: 1. World War I and World War II are no longer included; 2. The Holocaust is missing; 3. The run-up to the American revolution is diluted, as is the run-up to the Civil War; 4. The core documents that form the bedrock of our government are minimized.

These are things that define our country today and need to be understood by students so they can interpret the world they live in. As proposed, the new standards are very light to non-existent on the core values, history and the thinkers who developed the canon of Western Civilization within which we live today. These form our foundation, and without a strong foundation a house cannot stand.

The core values are the things that we can agree on, no matter our country of origin. Our national purpose is to continue the effort to create a more perfect union. These values and goals are worth defending.

The Center for the American Experiment has a succinct review on their website that provides information that citizens ought to know about the proposed changes. All parents, grandparents and taxpayers owe it to themselves to review what MDE is pushing forward. I encourage all citizens, and especially parents, to review the proposed standards and make their voices heard, whether you agree with the changes or not.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Let MDE know what you think! The e-mail addresses to contact MDE are: mde.academic-standards@state.mn.us and mde.commissioner@state.mn.us

Jeff Niedenthal,

Grove City