The majority of Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives have called on Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, to reject the new social studies standards that will soon exist in public schools throughout the state.
“The proposed state standards are filled with politically weaponized terminology that hold no academic value but seek only to dehumanize and rationalize unspeakable violence,” wrote the Republicans in a letter to Gov. Walz. “In exercising your veto, you can send a strong message that our classrooms should strive to be centers of academic excellence, rather than social justice warrior workshops.”
The new social studies standards have been the subject of significant controversy. Every 10 years, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is tasked with revising and updating the standards that are used in Minnesota’s public school system. After a multi-year review process which started in 2020, MDE’s new social studies standards are now in the final phases of being adopted.
However, the new standards have received widespread criticism, partly due to their proposed introduction of a new social studies category called “Ethnic Studies.”
According to the “Ethnic Studies” standards’ corresponding benchmarks, kindergartners will be asked to “Retell a story about an unfair experience that conveys a power imbalance.” Fourth-graders will be asked to “Explain the role that stereotypes and images based on race, religion, geography, ethnicity and gender play in the construction of an individual’s/group’s identity.”
Fifth-graders will be asked to “Analyze anti-colonial and anti-racist resistance movements of culturally, racially and ethnically diverse people throughout the world.”
Additionally, high-school students will be asked to “Investigate how the establishment of the Minnesota and U.S. government upheld and violated ideas of freedom, equality and justice for individuals and groups” and “Examine the construction of racialized hierarchies based on colorism and dominant European beauty standards and values.”
Although the letter to Gov. Walz makes no direct mention of the new “Ethnic Studies” portion, it does reference “politically weaponized terminology” in opposing the new standards.
According to the House Republicans, Gov. Walz has final authority to approve or reject these standards. Given the GOP’s minority status in the Minnesota Legislature, the Republican lawmakers can do little more than write letters and make requests.
Apparently referring to a left-wing group called Education for Liberation Network, the letter calls further attention to the groups who helped develop the new social studies standards.
“It is unfortunate that the Minnesota Department of Education has chosen or allowed their standards review process to be highjacked by extremists seeking the political radicalization of public schools. At a time when fewer than half of our students can read at grade level, the Department of Education is focused on political activism,” reads the GOP letter.
Education for Liberation Network, or EdLib, is a national organization that claims to have “played a critical role in cultivating and sustaining Ethnic Studies in the nation for more than five years.” With the goal of fundamentally changing education in Minnesota, EdLib began a coordinated effort to introduce “Ethnic Studies” into Minnesota schools.
In fact, EdLib admitted its goal was to “pack the MN social studies revision committee, led by the MN Department of Education (MDE), to demand that Ethnic Studies be included in social studies curricula.” EdLib was given a seat on the committee. Unsurprisingly, “Ethnic Studies” was included in the new standards.
After recent approval from an administrative law judge, the new social studies standards are set to be in place for the 2026-27 school year.
In addition to the social studies review process, a recent state law passed by Democrats requires “Ethnic Studies” curriculum to be taught in Minnesota public schools. As such, left-wing actors ensured that “Ethnic Studies” would be a part of Minnesota schools one way or another.