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September 23, 2009
October 02, 2009
When Sheldon and Jeremy Stern reviewed the Minnesota social studies standards earlier this year, there was certainly much room for improvement. (See here for the full review.) Unfortunately, if a description of the changes by the Minneapolis Star Tribune is right, it sounds like the state may be moving in exactly the wrong direction. According to the article,
a key goal for this year's social studies committee, which is made up of citizens and teachers, is to shrink the standards to more manageable lengths, which means far fewer examples than are contained in the current standards.
Note first that the committee is made up of ?citizens and teachers.? Does that mean to imply that the state isn't deliberately soliciting the input of historians? Let's hope not. While there would certainly be tension between what the historians wanted to include and what the teachers felt was manageable, such tension is a healthy way to ensure the pendulum doesn't swing too far in one direction or another.
Further, it's disheartening to hear that the state is moving to remove content from the standards, given that the Sterns felt the inclusion of so much substantive content was the best part about the standards.
On the other hand, they felt the standards were ?poorly organized, chronologically confused, and divorced from context,? and that ?political bias also makes unwelcome intrusions at all levels, at the expense of balanced historical perspectives.? Addressing those problems doesn't appear to have been the committee's top priority. Perhaps it should be?