Minnesota K-12 Social Studies Draft Dumps Major U.S. Historical Events for ‘Systemic Racism’

Postcard shows the iconic image of American soldier and politician (and the country's first President) George Washington as he crosses the Delaware River in a boat with his troops, McKonkey's Ferry, Pennsylvania, December 26, 1776. The headline reads "Who helped make us free? Washington.' The card's illustration is based on …
Kean Collection/Getty

The Minnesota Department of Education has released its first draft of K-12 social studies standards for the next ten years, a proposal that omits most of the significant events in American history and focuses, instead, on “systemic racism” and the oppression of “marginalized” people throughout U.S. and Minnesota history.

The entire draft can be viewed here. It includes the following standards:

17.6.2 Define political, economic, spatial and historical perspectives and apply them to the boundary disputes and genocide that occurred in the past within the land that is Minnesota today.

17.9.3 Explain the social construction of race and how it was used to oppress people of color and assess how social policies and economic forces offer privilege or systematic oppressions for racial/ethnic groups related to accessing social, political, economic and spatial opportunities.

17.9.4 Evaluate the impact of spatial decisions on policies affecting historically marginalized communities of color and indigenous nations and take action to affect policy.

18.7.1 Define freedom and democracy, and examine how different groups have been included or excluded from the ideals over the in American history.

18.9.6 Describe the tactics used by the United States government to claim indigenous and Mexican land, including but not limited to an analysis of the ideology of Manifest Destiny and its relationship to whiteness, Christianity, and capitalism; and analyze the strategies used by Native Americans and Mexicans to respond to US settler colonialism. (Example: Louisiana Purchase; multiple treaty negotiations with and wars against Indigenous nations and Native alliances; negotiated annexation of Texas; United States-Mexican War.)

18.9.7 Describe the content, context, and consequences of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments and evaluate the successes and failures of the Reconstruction, including successful efforts to disenfranchise newly freed Black Americans, making sure to connect this history to persistent discrimination and inequity in the present.

21.5.1 Describe how rivalries among European nations and their search for new opportunities fueled expanding global trade networks and, in North America, colonization and settlement and the exploitation and genocide of indigenous peoples and theft of indigenous lands.

22.9.1 Develop a respectful awareness about how ideas and norms about gender have changed over time, and how members of the LGBTQ+ community have responded to persecution or marginalization by building coalitions in order to promote gender equality/equity.

As the “Raise Our Standards MN” campaign, an effort of public policy organization Center of the American Experiment, observed, what is especially stunning about the draft is what it omits:

  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • The American flag
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • The Holocaust – including references to Nazis and Jews
  • Communism and Socialism
  • The American Revolution
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson
  • Civil War
  • The brave Minnesotans of the First Regiment who were first to answer Lincoln’s call for help.
  • Minnesota/Iron Range role during WWI and WWII
  • Minnesota’s response to global conflicts and displaced people since 1945

The campaign added the Minnesota Standards Review Committee proposes replacing these major events and aspects of U.S. and Minnesota history with:

  • Systemic racism in the United States rooted in our founding
  • How freedom and democracy have included or excluded certain groups throughout our history
  • Develop a “respectful awareness” of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Gender Equality/Equity
  • Minnesota’s juvenile justice system and its evaluation on the impact on BIPOC communities
  • The Reconstruction period, specifically successful efforts to disenfranchise newly freed Black Americans and connecting this history to persistent discrimination and inequity in the present
  • An analysis of the ideology of Manifest Destiny and its relationship to whiteness, Christianity, and capitalism…

Catrin Wigfall, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment, reviewed the proposed draft, noting 5,000 comments were submitted to the standards review committee by parents and citizens through the campaign’s website, which contained the letter expressing concern about the elimination of major events in U.S. history and features of civics.

Wigfall wrote about the response the comments received from members of the committee:

Instead of discussing the specific concerns the letter identified and the specific changes the letter suggested, Director of Academic Standards Doug Paulson dismissed the voices of real Minnesotans by labeling their concerns in the letter as “white supremacy language.” No parts of the letter were referenced or quoted to support what the supposed “white supremacy language” was.

“Committee member Danyika Leonard asked whether the committee should just do a “select all delete sort of thing” to the comments submitted by 5,000 Minnesotans,” Wigfall added.

Recordings of committee members making these statements can be heard here.

John Hinderaker wrote at Minnesota-based Powerline Thursday the standards and the dismissal of the concerns of those with opposing views is “a classic of leftist bureaucratic arrogance.”

“[T]hey undertake to promulgate a new set of benchmarks pursuant to a statute, they solicit public comments per the statutory requirement, and then ignore the public’s views and proceed with their far-left agenda,” he observed. “We see this pattern constantly.”

Wigfall said the Center will continue to follow the standards revision process and report on future drafts.


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