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Back to June Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 209 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JUNE 2003

Minnesota Repeals Controversial Profile of Learning 
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ST. PAUL, MN - After a five-year battle, parents and citizens opposed to Minnesota's Profile of Learning finally have a reason to celebrate: the Minnesota legislature repealed the Profile's Graduation Standards and performance assessments on May 22.

During a victory rally at the State Capitol, supporters of the repeal thanked legislators for their votes. "The defeat of the profile is a monumental occasion," said Julie Quist, Vice President of the Maple River Education Coalition (MrEdCo), the pivotal organization in the Profile's ouster. "Minnesota's grassroots education movement has defeated what was misrepresented to the public as an exceptional idea."

MrEdCo described the Profile's overwhelming defeat as "truly historic." Sixty-four of the state's 67 Senators voted to repeal it, and the tally in the House was 125 to 9 in favor of the repeal.

At the victory rally, MrEdCo founder Renee Doyle stated: "Overturning the Profile required electing a new governor and new legislators. It required that parents, teachers and citizens come back year after year" voicing their concerns and reiterating their opposition to this federal initiative, which the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning (DCFL) claimed was a local program. In 2000, federal administrators threatened to withdraw federal funds from Minnesota schools failing to implement the Profile, which decisively established the federal connection.

During the Minnesota Senate's debate before the final vote, Profile supporters' purpose became clear. While the House passed parameters for new education standards, requiring that they be based on factual, verifiable knowledge, those parameters were missing from the Senate bill. When Sen. Michele Bachmann - one of the "new" legislators referred to by Renee Doyle - demanded to know why the House requirements had been deleted by Profile supporter Sen. Steve Kelley, he stated: "When students are learning to write they are learning a skill. A skill isn't factual or verifiable."

Sen. Bachmann pointed out that House parameters for the new standards also require that they "preserve and promote fundamental American principles as stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States." She asked Sen. Kelley why he had removed the Declaration of Independence from the parameters. He replied: "The declaration has no legal status in defining people's rights and privileges."

Opponents pointed to Sen. Kelley's remarks as the crux of why they worked so long and hard to defeat the Profile. Promoting and preserving the Declaration, natural law, national sovereignty, and free-market enterprise, they assert, were not among its goals, and were in fact words slated to be kept out of the parameters for Minnesota's new education standards. In short, an understanding of the American system devised by our Founding Fathers was not part of the Profile's education standards defining what Minnesota children should know. According to MrEdCo, the Profile was aligned with the new federal curriculum, which redefines traditional American principles of freedom and undermines knowledge-based education. (See Education Reporter, May 2003.)

Profile In Controversy 
From the moment Minnesota's Profile of Learning was implemented by the DCFL and the State Board of Education in 1998, it created controversy and stirred opposition among parents, teachers, and pro-family groups. The Profile essentially replaced traditional subjects with "performance packages," a complicated mixture of tasks focused on students' attitudes, feelings and beliefs rather than on academic knowledge. The Profile also created a mountain of paperwork for teachers. (See Education Reporter, April 1998.)

The Profile contained "Diversity Rules," giving state bureaucrats the power to force "diversity" training in the classroom. In one school district, parents spoke out against a textbook called Diversity Perspectives, which they described as advancing "an extremely liberal agenda." Parents charged that this text promoted socialism, homosexuality, and the creation of a new Bill of Rights that included a "right" to abortion.

Parents vigorously objected to the general dumbing down of the curriculum under the Profile. MrEdCo gave this example of a Profile class activity: "One class of juniors and seniors spent hours constructing a Mexican Government building out of graham crackers to fulfill their World Language requirement."

What's Next? 
In the wake of the Profile's defeat, many are asking what's next for education in Minnesota. While cautiously optimistic, activists harbor no illusions. "This bill provides the vehicle and the map for Minnesota's new road," MrEdCo stated in a press release. "But there are enormously rocky ways ahead. The new standards and tests will be in constant conflict with the drive for the federal content, the federal curriculum, the redefining of our principles of freedom, and the undermining of genuine education." This victory, for example, does not do away with School-to-Work, which the Profile embraced and which continues full-speed ahead in Minnesota and other states.

Perhaps the most positive fallout from the Profile's defeat will be the enormous boost it gives traditional education proponents, teachers, and legislators across the country. As one Minnesota activist put it: "This [victory] should give encouragement to other states to persevere as did the opponents of the Profile here in the heartland."


 
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