Write the new Minnesota patriotism standards

MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports today several House GOPers are urging Gov. Mark Dayton to reject new Department of Education social studies standards because they do not stress the value of American patriotism.

Pugmire writes on MPR’s Capitol View blog…


In their letter, Daudt and Woodard complained that the standards de-emphasize the contributions of the United States and its economic and political ideals.

“Throughout the entire set of civic and history standards there is virtually no mention of the values of American patriotism,” they wrote.

The GOP leaders also noted that there are no mentions of Osama Bin Laden, the war on terrorism or the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

This sounds like an invitation to propose what would constitute standards that “emphasize the value of American patriotism.”

But first, you’ll want to read the proposed standards. They are 146 pages long. Read them here.

Then, come back and propose what you think isn’t in there that should be, and what’s in there that shouldn’t be.

If you don’t want to do the reading, perhaps we can start with a more basic question. What exactly is American patriotism?

  • CaliGuy

    I’ve read the standards several times since their release in February or March. I applaud the effort MDE made on these. The comments today from the GOP is an attempt to (once again) politicize what are very reasonable and objective standards. Another piece of irrelevant complaining from an irrelevant party.

  • Robert Moffitt

    While I sometimes agree with Dr. Samuel Johnson’s views on patrotism, I’ll take an honest stab at answering the question.

    I think American patriotism is demonstrated both by the man who displays an American flag, and by the lawyer who defends a flag burning protester in court.

    I don’t see particularly see patriotism in eagles, bumper stickers, slogans or beer commercials. I do see it in the day-to-day actions of people who care about their contry, and want to keep it whole, and make it better.

    It’s not the exclusive property of the Left or the Right, the young or the old, or any group or interest. All Americans are welcome to express it and feel good about it — no exceptions, no exclusions.

    America hasn’t always done the right thing, in the past and in the present. But we have gotten better. And we can all work toward a more perfect union. If you are doing that, you are likely a patriot.

    That’s how I see it.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Color me stunned. Kids today get 20th Century history?! When I was growing up we didn’t make it to WWI in any of my history classes.

    As for 9/11, it’s not history, it’s current events and I’m not sure I want to see our schools teaching current events because it’s just a big invite to all the fringe types and extremists who will never be happy with any curriculum that disagrees with their ideology, but who seem to have unlimited time to attend meetings with their monkey wrenches and tracts.

  • Eric

    As a social studies teacher who will have to implement these standards I dread the changing of our standards. Not because we shouldn’t change or modify those standards but because it always leads to this ideological tug of war. This fight about who is mentioned and who isn’t mentioned and who might be mentioned more than someone else. It’s really quite tiresome…

    I can promise you that even without a mention of pilgrims, our children will continue to learn about them. I promise that even though George Washington is mentioned once in the standards, he will be discussed and learned about in every classroom across Minnesota. I promise these things will be covered even if the standards don’t specifically mention them. Why? Because the standards are broad goals of broad topics and time periods that the state believes students should learn about and that is exactly what they should be. Broad goals offer teachers the freedom to choose the how those broad topics should be taught. They also make the task of covering the material manageable. The more standards the less time teachers have to really build student understand meaning a mile wide knowledge base but merely an inch deep.

    That is not to say I am happy with these standards. The bigger outrage is the demand by the state that every school in the state teach the various parts of social studies in the same grades as every other school in the state. I might not be opposed to this idea if in that process they shortened Economics and Government to QUARTER classes and placed them in 9th grade and extended the amount of World History and placed it in 12th grade. So, they have taken perhaps the most needed classes in the curriculum and shortened them and placed them in the grade least ready to handle the information or see its relevance.

    If you want something to be outraged about, be outraged about that!

  • Steve

    In her baseball-infused memoir “Wait Till Next Year,” Doris Kearns Goodwin gives one answer. It came up as she watched the civil rights drama play out.

    “I was still a patriotic American. But thanks to teachers of uncommon skill and breadth, patriotism would never again mean unthinking adherence to things as they were. I would not confuse the temporary leaders of a country with the country itself.”

  • bsimon

    “As for 9/11, it’s not history, it’s current events”

    9/11/2001 is history. It is roughly comparable to studying the Vietnam war when I was growing up – which we did (born in 1970, for reference).

  • Mark Gisleson

    9/11 was the beginning of an era of heightened security, an era that we are still living in. bsimon, you were born as the Vietnam War ended, and by the time you hit middle school we were actively dissecting that war in the past tense.

    9/11 still dominates our domestic and foreign policy, and we are still overreacting to it. I would prefer that teachers focus on the history that precedes 9/11. Teaching current events to younger students just teaches them to be reactionaries. They need history for context and clearer understanding.