17,000 residents write to MDE with concerns about social studies standards

Parents are asking MDE that the ethnic studies portion of the standards be removed completely, as the benchmarks under that subject "focus on oppression and marginalization."

Minnesota Department of Education/Facebook

The second draft of the social studies standards was released at the end of last month, and now 17,000 Minnesotans have written to the Social Studies Standards Committee with their concerns about critical race theory being embedded in the draft.

Thousands of citizens signed and sent a letter prepared by the Center of the American Experiment to the Minnesota Department of Education committee. The letter outlines reasons parents are concerned about their children being taught the standards expressed in the second draft.

“Students will learn that their self-concept centers around their racial and gender group identity, and that limiting oppression narratives, not facts, is the lens through which all social studies content should be viewed,” reads the letter, which is part of a campaign called Raise Our Standards.

One subject in the standards is identified as “ethnic studies,” an area of research that is built from critical race theory.

Parents are asking MDE that the ethnic studies portion of the standards be removed completely, as the benchmarks under that subject “focus on oppression and marginalization.”

The standards also promote a “negative view of America,” thousands of commenters say.

Current political issues are inserted throughout the standards, which “should not be forced into the benchmarks,” parents and citizens argue in the letter.

Native American studies are disproportionately addressed, the letter says, with over 60 specific benchmarks teaching an “indigenous perspective” and “centering” that group of people.

While improvements were made compared to the first draft, policy fellow at the American Experiment Catrin Wigfall said the new standards still include content “that would take Minnesota education in the wrong direction.”

“The new draft continues to manifest a negative and even hateful attitude toward the United States and its history with a focus on systemic racism, group identity, and a zero-sum power struggle between racial groups,” Wigfall said, according to a press release.

MDE gave the public only two weeks to comment on the latest draft of standards after releasing it months later than planned.

The first draft received about 6,000 comments from residents who signed the Raise Our Standards letter, and the changes in the second draft were a result of that public feedback, the American Experiment said.

According to Wigfall, “The Department of Education and the committee showed a willingness to listen during the first round, so we remain hopeful they will not ignore the voices of thousands of Minnesotans demanding change to the second draft.”