Menahga School Board rejects social studies recommendations

The board only approved the Savvas materials for third through fifth grades.

Menahga School
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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In June, Menahga Middle School social studies teacher Stephanie Kramer shared a committee’s research on updating the social studies curriculum. The COVID pandemic and district’s budget crisis put the upgrade two years behind schedule, she noted.

Third through fifth grade teachers are looking at Savvas for a new social studies curriculum. The quote was $54,357.

For kindergarten through 12th grades, they recommended a subscription to Newsela, a current events website that produces content at five different reading levels. Kramer said they’d like to try that for one year. A yearly subscription is $5,500.

Finally, McGraw Hill was recommended for the secondary social studies curriculum, totaling $20,137.

At the Menahga School Board’s Aug. 15 meeting, member Helen Lehto said she found the Newsela material to be “very liberal. I didn’t find anything that I felt was conservative, specifically. There was some middle-of-the-road, but any opinion was always left.” Lehto suggested finding new curriculum.


Kicker said she received phone calls from parents dissatisfied with Newsela.

Howard said she was unimpressed with McGraw Hill.

Board member Cherie Peterson expressed concern that social studies is such a “hot topic,” if the board chooses the wrong textbooks, they will lose students.

Board member David Treinen said students are “gleaning a lot more from the textbooks we use. I think that is a great opportunity for the parents to sit down with that student and discuss what we believe.”

Treinen said the school board could seek other curriculum. “If it’s the best teaching tool for our teachers, we as a school board can still put some reins on how this school uses that tool.”

Kjos said the teachers’ hearts are in the right place. “In the end, it’s the teacher who is going to decide what the message is. Right now, we have classes that don’t have curriculum.” He recommended approving all the proposed curriculum.

Kicker asked, “How do we know that they are teaching our kids things that are neutral?”

Kjos replied that he trusts the teachers. If there are complaints, administration would have a “hard conversation” with that teacher.


“We have to teach the facts. We have to teach the state standards, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

The board only approved the Savvas materials.

The Braves have to replace entire starting lineup from last year's 26-3 team.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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