Social Studies Standards

To the editor:

I would like to respond to a video posted on Gary Dahm’s public Facebook page and a subsequent letter printed in The Journal criticizing the proposed changes to the MN Social Studies Standards. There appears to be quite a bit of misinformation and/or misunderstandings in both.

Mr. Dahms, whether intentionally or not, has an opinion that appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the changes to the new standards. What is included in the standards draft itself is NOT open to opinion. Items are either there or they aren’t. But some are misrepresenting hoping you won’t go look for yourselves. Opinions on the proposed changes, however, certainly may vary. When you develop yours, please base it in facts straight from the horse’s mouth (MDE) and not filtered through the lens of others who may not have a clear understanding or an ulterior agenda. Here are a couple of examples:

1. History is being erased. Culture is being cancelled.

This is blatantly false. The Holocaust will still be taught, as will the World Wars and other major historical events that were previously covered. History is not being erased, but it may be looked at through different perspectives. If you are concerned about “Cancel Culture”, please take a long look at what cultures HAVE historically been cancelled. Did you learn about the Tulsa Massacre? I never did. Did you know Black veterans were denied the benefits of the GI Bill when returning from WWII? I didn’t. What famous African American inventors can you name? There were plenty. Why don’t they come to mind as easily Thomas Edison or others that are household names? Because we weren’t taught these things in school. Adding other perspectives and highlighting events previously untaught isn’t cancelling anything. Saying otherwise is simply untrue and only serves to enrage and divide.

2. Teaching Critical Race Theory is meant to shame students into feeling bad about their “whiteness”.

False. It simply utilizes facts and societal norms in the analysis of how people are treated based on race. Like it or not, if you identify as “white” you have unwittingly benefited from the way other races have been mistreated. That’s not your fault. Is it uncomfortable to acknowledge though? You bet it is. History SHOULD make one uncomfortable if it’s accurately portrayed. This is how we learn and grow. History should not be simply used to glorify past events. Implicit bias and systemic racism are still alive in our society today. How better to address these issues than through education and conversation?

There is nothing sinister in the new standards. The terrible liberals aren’t out to indoctrinate your children as many on the right would have you believe. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the standards yourself. Please DO offer the MDE input on the new standards as Dahms and the recent letter writer implored you to do. But have your suggestions based on accurate information and not shaped by someone else’s misplaced outrage.

Wendi Ringhofer

New Ulm


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