Minnesota parents, are you ready for the coming "woke" invasion of your child's public school?
By 2022, as your first-grader is learning that two plus two is four, the Minnesota Department of Education intends to mandate that she also learn to recognize "stereotypes," "biased speech," and "injustice at the institutional or systemic level."
Your middle schooler will be drilled in how his identity is a function of his skin color.
Your high schooler will be required to explain how Europeans invented "whiteness" and that America's 19th-century westward expansion was the shameful product of "whiteness, Christianity and capitalism."
Not what you signed up for? Take a look at the new K-12 social studies standards that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is proposing to replace the current standards, which lay out what students must "satisfactorily complete" to graduate from high school.
If the new standards are adopted, the next generation of Minnesota citizens will be not only uninformed — but scandalously misinformed — about our nation's history and democratic institutions. They will, however, be programmed to become the next generation of "woke" social activists, having spent their public-school years immersed in the lingo and thought world of the progressive left.
The new standards focus primarily on cultivating politically correct attitudes and commitments, rather than preparing students to take on the duties of citizenship by ensuring they understand the chronological story of the key events, actors and ideas that shaped American democracy and the larger world.
George Washington and D-Day rate no mention, though they were highlighted in earlier versions of the standards. Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of Gettysburg are omitted, but students study partus sequitur ventrem — the legal principle adopted in Virginia in 1662 that a child followed the slave or free status of its mother.
World history from classical Greece and Rome to World Wars I and II — a major focus of the current and original 2004 standards — has been virtually eliminated. In its place, for example, as young people study "where buildings can and cannot be built" in the U.S., they will learn about "feng shui" — a pseudoscientific Chinese practice that Merriam-Webster defines as configuring a site or structure to "harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it."
MDE educrats acknowledge the proposed standards mark a "shift in approach to standards and social studies learning." That "shift" is in fact a revolution, as a comparison of Minnesota's first statewide social studies standards, approved by the Legislature in 2004, with MDE's current draft reveals.
The 2004 standards took a "warts-and-all approach" to American history. But their primary purpose was to ensure that students "gain the knowledge and skills" necessary to "protect and maintain freedom," in a nation built by "individuals united in an ongoing quest for liberty, freedom, justice and opportunity."
MDE's proposed standards, by contrast, state that the purpose of social studies is to prepare students to address "powerful social, cultural and political inequities," by "examining their identities," becoming "conscious and critical of their own biases and those of the larger society," and examining various inequities' "connections to other axes of stratification, including gender, race, class, sexuality and legal status."
The ideology that powers the draft standards is "racial identity politics," a core tenet of today's fashionable "woke" agenda. The standards drill relentlessly into students' heads that their skin color defines who they are and how they see the world — directly contradicting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s colorblind ideal. The new approach presents history as a one-dimensional power struggle between oppressive whites and victimized nonwhites.
Indoctrination in identity politics under these standards would start in kindergarten, where 5-year-olds will "identify surface and deep characteristics of different ways of being (identity)." Fourth-graders are coached on how one's "identity" and "biases influence decisions about how to use a space." Seventh-graders are exhorted to "define race and ethnicity from different perspectives and make connections to one's own ways of being (identities)."
By high school, students must "explain" — parrot back is more like it — "the social construction of race" and "assess how social policies and economic forces offer privilege or systematic oppressions for racial/ethnic groups."
The standards portray America as a very bad place indeed. From elementary school on, students will be propagandized that we live in a greedy, "imperialist" nation, permeated by "powerful social, cultural and political inequities" which young people must "take action" to "address." Yet they will lack the knowledge to put America's alleged shortcomings in context, in part because the standards are silent on 20th-century totalitarian movements and atrocities like Soviet gulags, the Nazi Holocaust, the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the 9/11 terror attacks.
The standards were drafted by a hand-picked committee of 44 people, many of whom represent demographic special interest groups or "equity" organizations with an aggressive political agenda.
For example, Native Americans make up about 1% of Minnesota's population, but nearly 20% of the committee. The new standards include a strikingly disproportionate emphasis on Indigenous people, and many benchmarks forthrightly promote activist Native American political priorities. It appears that a significant proportion of the class time previously devoted to U.S. and World history will now be focused on Native Americans.
MDE will adopt the standards in final form later this year, and a second draft that adds details and optional examples will appear before that. The standards will become law through administrative rule-making, without legislative involvement.
A stacked committee, unaccountable to the public, is rewriting history in a way that will profoundly affect our state's future. One man is ultimately responsible for this runaway ideological freight train — Gov. Tim Walz — and only he can stop it.
Katherine Kersten (email@example.com.) is a senior policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, whose magazine Thinking Minnesota includes a longer treatment of these topics in its current issue.