A member of the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners asked the Park Rapids School Board on Monday to uphold historic American values in this year’s review of social studies curriculum.
“Every 10 years, the state of Minnesota looks at curriculum,” Commissioner Char Christenson said for the benefit of community members who were present. “What they’re looking to take out this year is – missing benchmarks: World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the cause and effects of communism and socialism, the American Revolution and the Civic War will be totally taken out of the social studies curriculum for all grades.”
Christenson was summarizing a list of curriculum changes about world and U.S. history provided in an article by Catrin Wigfall for “American Experiment,” titled “MN Social Studies Standards are Under Revision: Here are top 5 areas of concern.”
Wigfall’s list goes into detail about benchmarks under each of the listed topics that are missing from Minnesota’s 2020 social studies standards compared to 2011 standards, such as the social, political and economic causes of the wars, key battles, historically significant people during the period, and the debates over slavery and states rights.
Wigfall also lists “watered down benchmarks” and adds similar lists under the topics of Minnesota history, patriotism, wind and solar energy, racism and marginalization.
“I’m very concerned about this,” said Christenson. “Our nation was founded on religious freedom and the right for expression. There has never been a nation in the world, in our entire history, that has offered more hope and freedom for anybody other than in the United States.”
Christenson also quoted out of a magazine article in “Thinking Minnesota” and read an excerpt from a story read by a fourth-grade classroom in Burnsville where a family discusses a police-involved shooting.
The family in the story “Something Happened in Our Town” concluded that there’s an unfair pattern in society of “being nice to white people and mean to black people.”
“In Hopkins, Minn., junior highs have dropped traditional letter grades for a new assessment system, since letter grades are linked to dominant white culture, thus creating inequality,” Christenson continued. “Martin Luther King’s ideas are now considered racist. The idea that people’s skin color doesn’t matter is actually (described as a) strategy that perpetuates our racist status quo.”
Christenson also read aloud about Minnesota schools teaching “social justice mathematics” and encouraging students to emulate the Black Panthers’ “revolutionary socialistic ideology.”
“What I’m asking you guys to do is take a stand,” she told the school board. “We’re not a ‘cancel culture’ here. We have a history, and no matter who tries to cancel our culture, it cannot be erased.
“I’m asking you to take a stand for not only what we are now, but what our ancestors fought for, what our grandparents possibly fought and died for, and what our children deserve to know, and that’s the truth of what our nation was founded on. We can be proud of who we are. It doesn’t matter what color of skin we are. We all have a purpose and a meaning, and we need to work together, instead of creating a diversity of hatred.”
Christenson said she has discussed this with State Reps. Steve Green and Matt Grossell and State Sen. Paul Utke and they are “all on the same page.” Green was present at the meeting.
“They’re trying to stand up for truth for our nation, and I’m asking you as a school board to do the same,” Christenson said.
Because her presentation was offered as public comment, the school board took no action connected with it.