Help Restore Teaching About Judaism and Other World Religions to Minnesota’s Social Studies Standards
August 6, 2021
We are writing to enlist your urgent assistance in ensuring that our state’s full religious diversity, including Judaism, is included in Minnesota’s social studies standards.
The Minnesota Department of Education (“MDE”) has been revising Minnesota’s K-12 Social Studies Standards since March 2020. On July 30th the second draft was finally released. The current standards and the first draft of the new proposed standards did include teaching about specific world religions in the contemporary world and historically.
Unfortunately, the standards and benchmarks in the just-released second draft of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards removed almost all specific references to world religions, including the two references to Judaism that are in the current standards.
We believe that an understanding of the beliefs, practices, and day-to-day lived experiences of members of the full spectrum of religions practiced in Minnesota, especially members of minority faiths such as Judaism, is essential to being an educated person.
Thanks to the advocacy of so many from within and beyond our Jewish community we are pleased that MDE accepted ALL of our recommendations concerning Holocaust and genocide education. However, we are very concerned that without the inclusion of specific world religions in the standards that world religions will be inadequately taught in classrooms and members of faiths whose religions have historically been marginalized, erased, or ignored by society will continue to be unseen and discounted.
More directly, we are also concerned that the new proposed language will make it far more challenging for the JCRC’s Speakers Bureau to secure invitations to educate about the basics of Judaism at public schools throughout Minnesota. This work is so important — for many of the students, our speakers are the first Jewish person they have ever met! It’s hard to believe that in 2021, students from Minnesota could arrive at college never having any exposure to Jews or Judaism.
Please let MDE know that you support the recommendations of the JCRC and our multifaith partners by sending a respectful email to Mr. Doug Paulson at email@example.com using the template below by no later than August 16, 2021. Please also copy firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the last opportunity for public comment before the standards are finalized! We very much need your help. Please feel free to share this urgent message with other concerned Minnesotans!
If you have any questions about the MDE process or our advocacy, please contact Ethan Roberts at email@example.com or by phone at 612-685-4763. For more information on the social studies standards review process, please refer to MDE’s website using this link.
Thank you, and Shabbat Shalom,
JCRC Executive Director
Subject Line: Please Restore Teaching About Judaism and Other World Religions to Minnesota’s Social Studies Standards
Dear Mr. Paulson,
I am writing today to express my concern about the removal of the teaching of Judaism and other world religions in the proposed second draft of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies and urge you to adopt the recommended suggestions submitted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and the Sikh Coalition.
As a [teacher, student, parent, supporter, etc.], I believe it is very important that Minnesota public schools educate our students about Judaism and other world religions [Optional: because … Explain in your own words why you think this is important].
The proposed changes to Minnesota’s K-12 social studies standards represent a step backward from existing standards. I am particularly concerned that without the inclusion of specific world religions in the proposed standards, not only will our students receive an incomplete education, but members of faiths whose religions have historically been marginalized, erased, or ignored by society and in the classroom will continue to be unseen and discounted.
I am asking that you coordinate closely with the JCRC and their interfaith partners to ensure that our students graduate with an understanding of the tremendous religious diversity in our state and nation, as well as an appreciation of the foundational and dynamic role that religion plays in shaping identity and culture.
[city where you live]
Learn more about the social studies standards
Minnesota Reformer: Second social studies standards draft again meets criticism