March 4, 2024

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Letter to the Editor

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Niedenthal uses misinformation as a political tool

To the Editor,

Last week I attended a talk in Ashby organized by the Grant County GOP on the subject of Critical Race Theory in public schools with speaker Jeff Niedenthal.

Niedenthal claimed that CRT will be included in the MN Dept of Ed’s proposed Social Studies curriculum. It isn’t. CRT isn’t referred to directly or indirectly anywhere in the draft of proposed updates the MN Dept of Ed released last December. Not once.

He said proposed benchmarks would eliminate major historical events like American wars and the Holocaust. That’s untrue. The December 2020 draft only addressed revised Standards and that the benchmarks included were only initial examples and not meant to be all-encompassing. They clarified this in a press release in January: “As noted in the introduction of the draft standards document, the committee focused first on the social studies standards themselves, and had not yet dug into the benchmarks underneath each standard.”

He claimed “left wing extremists” (his term) would erase our “Eurocentric” (his term) history and replace it with a version that would overemphasize the inclusion of Black and Native history because there simply aren’t enough hours in a teaching day to add more to the curriculum. Again, I can find zero evidence that this is being proposed.

Niedenthal only took three questions after the talk, but he and I spent nearly half an hour talking afterwards. He conceded that CRT isn’t mentioned in anything published by the MN Dept of Ed, but that he was basing the entire message of this statewide traveling road show on “inferences, assumptions, and reading between the lines” (his words). Not actual facts. Please do your homework and don’t be misled by misinformation being leveraged as a political weapon against our kids, their education, and our public school system. This is unacceptable.

Megan Mueller Jensen

Ashby, MN

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