KNOW THE LAW! Required Academic Standards

Rear view of class raising hands

Minnesota Statute 120B.021  REQUIRED ACADEMIC STANDARDS   

Part 2: How do “objective”, “measurable” and “grade-appropriate standards” written at a federal level and without a “specific teaching methodology or curriculum” consistently work within the sovereign legalities of our Minnesota and US Constitutions?

by Linda Bell

 We’re back with another in the series of knowing education law in the state of Minnesota.

Subdivision 2 governs academic standards development, including standards adoption by the state.   Here’s how the law reads. 

(b) “Academic standards must:

(1) be clear, concise, objective, measurable, and grade-level appropriate;

(2) not require a specific teaching methodology or curriculum; and

(3) be consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Minnesota.”

The standards appear to be clear and concise but that’s where it ends.  “Clear and concise” standards are not enough to lay a foundation for an entire state’s education system.  Let’s start with “measureable” and “objective”.  Are the standards measurable?  Are they objective?

But first, a commercial break! What state standards are found in Minnesota?

Minnesota’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver (No Child Left Behind) clearly states that, “Minnesota has formally adopted College-and-Career Ready Standards” in both English Language Arts and Math as well as the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts as a result of the Race to the Top grant.   Additionally the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, adopted by Minnesota in 2011, outlines Common Core Standards for pre-natal to age 5 children.  Thus, Minnesota has both Common Core (ELA & Birth to 5) and College & Career Ready Standards (ELA+Math).    These standards were rebranded and titled, “Minnesota State Standards”.  Phew!

 Now, back to measurable and objective.  We’ll deal with both standards and curriculum, since the large majority of the curriculum has been bought out by Gates and Pearson, offering a majority of Common Core-aligned materials.

Yes, the standards can be measured. They are measured through standardized tests and the curriculum utilized to achieve a test score.  The tests must be “multiple-choice” and “fully computer adaptive”.  (We’ll deal with multiple-choice and fully computer adaptive,  under the Statewide Test and Reporting statute; excellent link to how tests are created below. )    Measurement is indeed an important factor within standards.  The standards must be measurable.  But this is the question?  What are they measuring? 

The curriculum and testing is far from “objective”.       According to the Merriam-Webster Free Dictionary:


adjective \əb-ˈjek-tiv, äb-\

: based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings

The antonym is, you guessed it; subjective!   Did you realize that all of the C&CRS/Common Core curriculum and testing is heavily infused with feelings, attitudes and values?  In fact, the Common Core standards and tests are written for the affective domain.  Remember those college psych classes?  The cognitive domain includes synthesis, recollection, comprehension, evaluation and analysis.  Conversely, the affective domain  includes values, motivation, attitudes, perceptions and feelings.   So who’s values are we teaching?  And which values do we want retained?  Seems like we’re treading on very thin ice!

Not only do we see a daily barrage of Common Core worksheets, texts and surveys that teach values and political opinion over fact, we actually have some schools with “character training” programs.  My own school district superintendent in Robbinsdale ISD 281, proclaimed at his World’s Best Workforce public hearing that the primary function of the Robbinsdale schools is “to teach values and character-based education”.   Bye, academics!

One program used in Robbinsdale and many other districts, Response to Intervention (RtI) is used to supplant values and behaviors.   Teachers are checking off behaviors and then uploading that data.   RtI is based on a B.F. Skinner model.  Remember operant conditioning?   This is a whole lot of psychoanalysis and something that only psychoanalysts should be involved or not?  Do principals, superintendents and teachers all have advanced psychology degrees to implement and analyze such a bunch of mumbo-jumbo?   We must rescue the children before any further damage is done!   According to the state law above,  the Minnesota Department of Education and districts are flaunting their non-compliance with this statute.

Carleton College has a great visual of the affective and cognitive domains.  Here, even Carleton promotes using the affective domain to teach values and behaviors.  You can read it for yourself.  Evidently, removing certain “affective domain challenges” is part of the new “academics”!

What do Linda Darling-Hammond and David Coleman, two of the biggest names in the Common Core movement have to say about social and emotional learning?  According to Linda Darling-Hammond, campaign education advisor to President Obama, longtime advocate of nationalized standards (see numerous youtube speeches before UNESCO),   RAND employee and author, senior research advisor and assessment author of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (one of the two national consortias created to test the common core standards and curriculum) as well as author of CSCOPE in Texas, in a Nov. 2010 speech to NCATE (National Council for Accreditation/Teacher Edition) stated, Social and emotional learning are to be PRIMARY classroom implementation practices in the Common Core National Standards.”  In essence the Common Core Standards were never meant to be “objective”.  What does another leader in the Common Core Standards have to say?

In October 2012, David Coleman, the so-called “architect of the Common Core Standards” and lead writer of the CCSS English/Language Arts standards was appointed to President of the College Board, which administers the ACT test among others.  Coleman immediately went to work to align all of the College Board tests, now complete.   He said in 2012, We have a crisis in education…  The main thing on the College Boards’s agenda is to deliver its social mission.   “Social missions” have nothing to do with objective academics/curriculum or objective standards… except if your attending school in the state of Minnesota!

For children and parents, another big issue of the standards is that of inappropriate grade-level curriculum.  We see these examples publicized on a daily basis.   The problem of inappropriate grade-level standards and curriculum is a function of the propagation in a top-down method.   For the first time in the history of standards, standards were written starting at college-entrance level and written down to kindergarten instead of the other way around.  This is what happens when the lead authors of the Common Core Standards (and aligning curriculum and tests) are not educators, as was the case.  Again, our state DOE is not following state law.  The standards are inappropriate.  The curriculum is certainly inappropriate.

  • [Academic standards must] not require a specific teaching methodology or curriculum;

While the “state” (and we know this never come from the state) is responsible for the development and adoption of standards in key subject areas such as language arts, math, science, etc., school districts are supposed to maintain control and authority over curriculum… theoretically.   Stated, the academic standards (Common Core and College/Career Ready Standards) are not to employ a specific teaching methodology or curriculum upon teachers or students.  But in practice, this is exactly what is happening! 

Take Focused Instruction, for example, used in the school districts of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and Robbinsdale and no doubt, countless others.  This curriculum is scripted.  Teachers are required to read scripted lesson plans.  Focused Instruction is requiring both a specific methodology and curriculum!   So when districts are out of compliance with the law, who is supposed to police?  

What other curriculum or methodology is required as a consequence of the adoption of Common Core/College & Career Ready Standards?  What is the effect?

The great monopoly and takeover of school curriculum via Pearson, NCS Pearson and Pearson Vue (read history of Pearson here)

And some of their subsidiaries here.  (

(3)   [Academic standards must] be consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Minnesota.”

“Can of worms” alert!  First of all, educational standards are left to the states and not the federal government or “friends of the government”.  The formation of nationalized standards written by lobbyist groups, well connected within the US Department of Education and state government, is well… unconstitutional.   The entire standards movement is, you guessed it, unconstitutional.  The US Constitution has no mention of education and thus the Tenth Amendment is invoked.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I particularly like how this amendment is written.  “The powers” when not mentioned by the US Constitution, “Are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  “The states” do not mean the “state government” or more specifically, the state executive branch (governor and commissioner grant signatories).  It means you and me… THE PEOPLE.

 The propagation of federal (and international) standards are incompatible with the US Constitution.  What are we going to do about that?  Do we have any state leaders willing to address this issue?

What about Minnesota’s Constitution?

  • Section 1 of Article XIII of the Minnesota Constitution provides as follows:

    ” Uniform system of public schools.  The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schoolsThe legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.

Did our state’s early founders define “uniform system” as in nationalized standards… cookie-cutter… one-size fits all, as with the Common Core?  Doubtful.   “Uniform” is used within the same paragraph as “republican form of government” and thus refers to a free society.  And this is the rub, we cannot have nationalized standards and freedom.  The two cannot coexist!

Secondly, the legislature has a duty to the citizens of Minnesota to protect the stability of the state in regards to “the intelligence of the people”.   We would not want the future generations of Minnesotans to be less intelligent and yet that is exactly the outcome of the standards and curriculum.

And lastly, our legislature should be in the “driver’s seat” but somehow is not!  Our Minnesota legislature has spoken very little about “Common Core” or “nationalized standards”.  It is high time to have a full and open discourse on this matter and for the legislature to act on behalf of those who elect them as well as protect our US and Minnesota Constitutions.    Our state has a considerable number of constituents, be they liberal, conservative, libertarian, independent, green or otherwise who are involved in the lives of their children and their schools and want the Common Core, No Child Left Behind waiver, Race to the Top and especially a topic we will visit soon, the Minnesota World’s Best Workforce, repealed!

Our next statute is the Minnesota World’s Best Workforce.

Statute 120B.11


One thought on “KNOW THE LAW! Required Academic Standards”

  1. Reblogged this on Minnesotans Against Common Core and commented:

    We are reblogging this post on the Minnesota Academic Standards statute. It is important to note that standards may not not “require a specific teaching methodology or curriculum”. With Minnesota schools using only Common Core curriculum, they ARE using a specific curriculum. Tell them, “No!”

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