Wingnuts Lose Suit Over MN History Standards

Texas and Kansas are apparently not the only states where the right wing wants to change the history standards. In Minnesota, they actually filed a lawsuit over the history curriculum for public schools and a state judge just ruled against them in that suit.

Minnesota schools are free to implement new standards for teaching social studies after a judge ruled against critiques that the curriculum reflected a liberal and “anti-American” bias

Administrative Law Judge Barbara Neilson’s decision in the ideological battle over competing views of how to teach the American story called the new standards “needed and reasonable.” She ruled that they can be adopted as planned for the 2013-2014 school year.

Neilson was asked to mediate a dispute between the Department of Education and a group of mostly conservative critics, led by Education Liberty Watch and a number of Republican legislators.

In her decision, Neilson addressed the criticisms and the responses from the department on each point, such as whether the standards ignored the concept of “American exceptionalism,” removed the role of God-given rights from the discussion and unfairly called the U.S. a “democracy” rather than a “republic.”

In each case, Neilson found the responses by the Department of Education to be reasonable and based on current research, although she did not wade into the details of each controversy…

But critics complained the standards do not describe citizens’ rights as “God-given.” The department responded that this is a religious belief and not widely accepted in the social studies community. The argument over “American exceptionalism” followed many of the same contours, with conservatives contending the standards downplay America’s strengths, while the department argued that students must learn of America’s struggles as well as its strengths. The critics found persistent “liberal bias” throughout, but the department said it relied on research, not interpretations of religious texts.

The judge noted the department’s response that the standards “provide a positive portrayal of America” while also asking students to study “the battles that have been won to provide greater political, economic and social equality.”

I expect battles like this to happen in other states as well.


  1. says

    The critics found persistent “liberal bias” throughout…

    There was! The standards had black people and the occasional broad in them. And also, they said that the USA wasn’t perfect that one time.

  2. mareap says

    Ugh, Karen Efrem and Ed Watch (or whatever they call themselves now…Michelle Bachmann’s old group.) I dealt with them during the 2003 science standards writing and again during the 2009 effort. I teach elementary social studies methods as well as elementary science methods and can say that the new SS standards are light years better than the 2004 standards.

  3. Trebuchet says

    Maybe they need to move to Texas, which would be more their cup of tea.

    See what I did there?

  4. blf says

    The critics found persistent “liberal bias” throughout, but the department said it relied on research, not interpretations of religious texts.

    (My emboldening.) Reality wins again!

  5. says

    This is the first I heard of this and must say I am surprised. On the science standards committee we actually used the word ‘evolution’ in the standards and as a subject heading and this did not lead to a judicial ruling.

  6. says

    “Maybe they need to move to Texas, which would be more their cup of tea.”

    Can we seal the border afterwards?* Please, please, please?

    * Sane people should be given the opportunity to move to Minnesota. Maybe a house swap between those moving to Texas and those moving out?

  7. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Are they really using Colbert’s “Reality has a liberal bias” comment as a legal argument?

  8. dogmeat says

    This is the first I heard of this and must say I am surprised.

    This has been popping up all over the country since the Tea-bagger crowd came out of the woodwork.

    They want Real True American History™ taught in school. Overall arguments have been in favor of teaching 1920s style Gone With the Wind as history, white man’s burden, etc. Tennessee was a perfect example of this when they were going to bar teaching anything negative about the founding generation or the experiences of minority groups in the early country (namely the truth about slavery and Indian policy).

    There have also been pushes to get rid of “Democratic, Democracy, etc.,” a’la the “Democrat” party, etc., and instead refer to the US as a Republic, Republican form of government, etc. Attempts to teach the “Biblical roots of the Declaration and the Constitution,” and a bunch of other Barton-esque revisionist crap. I had parents a few years ago who were “keeping an eye” on economics because we were teaching that “Keynes communism” stuff.

    So, as a recap:

    Patriotic indoctrination for history
    The Bible’s role in the Constitution for government
    Supply Side economics for Economics

  9. freemage says

    Honestly, I’d prefer the book referred to the U.S. as a “democratic republic”, and then explain how neither party has any actual linkage to those terms. But that may just be me.

    Also, these twits keep misusing “American exceptionalism”. The term was coined to mean that because of America’s unique situation at the time of its founding, other nations shouldn’t expect the American model of society to work for them. In short, Alexis de Tocqueville was saying that America was a bad role model, because it didn’t operate under the same circumstances that other nations did.

  10. The Lorax says

    Just what we need… people trying to fool Americans into being even more egotistical.

  11. davefitz says

    Christ, just have the book present facts. Let the students debate what it means. But that might lead to *GASP*…FREE THOUGHT!

  12. says

    Well, Jeb Bush did say that history would be kind to his mentally defective brother. How else can that happen unless the wingnuts get to write the history?*

    Unless by “History” Jed meant that stripper who works in the club where all they good names have been taken.

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