Quiet Day at the Capitol. And there will be more than a few of those before the Governor's budget is released on January 22. Most new staff members were in meetings today, so it was difficult to arrange appointments with legislators for the early session. Well, try, try again tomorrow.
Things will pick up a bit tomorrow as both the House and Senate will have floor sessions and the first batch of bills will be introduced. Some of those have been baking for awhile, so it will be interesting to see what emerges.
The House Education Finance Committee will also be holding its first meeting tomorrow morning at 8:15 in Room 10 of the State Office Building. The announced purpose of the meeting is for committee members to introduce themselves and lay out their priorities for the coming session. That should provide some interesting discussion.
Social Studies Standards Will Likely Be Discussed. The recently-developed revisions to Minnesota's social studies standards will likely receive some attention during the 2013 legislative session. Of all the standards, the social studies standards usually elicit the most discussion. Unlike mathematics and science, where (although there are some disagreements about teaching methods) 2 + 2 always equals 4 and two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom make a water molecule, subjects like history, economics, and political science are more open to disagreement as to what pieces of knowledge should be taught and what, if any, perspective, should be taken in delivering this knowledge.
When the social studies standards were first established in 2006, it was done at the legislative level. Pressure was applied by those with viewpoints across the spectrum and the resulting standards were a plethora of bits of information. Social studies teachers throughout the state have commented that the current standards are so numerous that it is almost impossible to transmit them to students. In an effort to avoid the standards being determined at the legislative level, the Minnesota Department of Education convened a working group of social studies professionals to develop the revised standards. This process pared back considerably the number of specific standards and have incorporated them into the study of broader themes in American and world history. This has raised the ire of some--especially in the conservative camp--and there will likely be pressure applied to bring the standards to the Legislature for final approval. There was a bill introduced last session to do just that, but it did not become law.
St. Paul Pioneer Press Article: http://www.twincities.com/ci_22226045/minnesota-education-critics-target-changes-social-studies-standards
MPR Story on Republican Reaction to Social Studies Standards: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/archive/2012/12/house_gop_wants_1.shtml