History gets a conservative twist in Michigan social studies standards

June 20 update: Crowds growing to protest changes to Michigan social studies standards

References to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, climate change and “core democratic values” have been stripped from Michigan’s new proposed social studies standards, and the historic role of the NAACP downplayed, through the influence of Republican state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and a cadre of conservatives who helped rewrite the standards for public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

While individual teachers develop lesson plans for their classrooms and could incorporate the deleted subject matter, state standards set expectations for what students are to learn in each grade. Standards are so important that the state has spent four years developing new social studies standards to update standards implemented in 2007.

Key changes to social studies standards

You can read proposed changes to Michigan’s K-12 social studies standards here. Words proposed for deletion are struck through, and words proposed for addition are in CAPITAL LETTERS.

The new standards are now being reviewed as part of a public comment period that ends June 30. The State Board of Education is expected to receive feedback on public comments in August. There is no date set for a final vote by the board, but its co-president Casandra Ulbrich, a Democrat from Rochester Hills, said she expects the board won’t rush a vote.

While the standards still could be tweaked as a result of public comments, the current draft bears the imprint of several notable Michigan conservatives who served on a focus group charged with making changes to the standards, according to several members of the committee and officials at the Michigan Department of Education who spoke to Bridge, along with Colbeck, who is running as a Republican candidate for governor.

Michigan government simulator: Play our You Be The Governor game and balance the budget

Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Twp., is running for governor

“Some believed that even using the word ‘democratic’ implied partisan leanings,” said Rebecca Baker-Bush, a social studies consultant with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District who served on the standards committee and who is also president of the Michigan Council on the Social Studies. “That was a new one on me.”

Colbeck, R-Canton Twp., was “obviously an advocate for a certain partisan viewpoint,” Baker-Bush said. “But he was very willing to listen to others.”

Colbeck told Bridge he wanted to make the standards apolitical and that the standards now being used to guide curriculum in Michigan classrooms don’t offer students perspectives from both sides of thorny cultural issues. As one example of how a social issue can have two perspectives, he said the recent Supreme Court wedding cake case, framed as a same-sex marriage issue, also raises questions about the baker’s religious freedoms.

Notable changes in the proposed new standards include:

  • References to the Ku Klux Klan are decreased, from two to a single reference in eighth-grade, along with a mention in a list of optional examples high school history teachers can consider when teaching about social issues between 1890 and 1930. (Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story only listed the optional example mention of the KKK in the proposed standards.)
  • Five existing references to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have been cut, with a lone reference remaining in a section on the 1920s on its “legal strategy to attack segregation.”
  • The two references to gays and lesbians in the current standards, in sections dealing with the fight for rights for minority groups, have been deleted.
  • Both references in the current standards to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, are removed.
  • A high school standard about the expansion of civil rights and liberties for minority groups cut references to individual groups, including immigrants, people with disabilities and gays and lesbians. The new proposal includes teaching “how the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms of others.” Colbeck told Bridge he added that phrase.
  • References to climate change are cut in the proposed standards, with the impact of man on global warming limited to an optional example sixth-grade teachers can use when discussing climate in different parts of the planet. (The standards retain a more generic reference to teaching how "human actions modify the environment.")  In notes Colbeck sent to the state board, the former aerospace engineer argues that climate change is “not settled science.”

Another example Colbeck cited of his influence in shaping of the new standards is the deletion of the word “democratic” from the phrase “core democratic values.”

How to be heard on social studies standards

The Michigan Department of Education is seeking public input on new social studies standards. You can comment online up until June 30 here. MDE is also holding nine in-person meetings around the state. Four have already been held. Upcoming meetings are in the following locations:

  • Cadillac, 6-8 p.m. June 13, at the General Education Building of Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District, 9905 E. 13th St.
  • Flint, 6-8 p.m. June 18, at the Erwin L. Davis Education Center of the Genesee Intermediate School District, 2413 W. Maple Ave.
  • Saginaw,  6-8 p.m. June 19, 3860 Fashion Square Boulevard
  • Waterford, 6-8 p.m. June 20, at Oakland Intermediate School District, 2111 Pontiac Lake Rd.
  • Sault Ste. Marie, 6-8 p.m. June 26, at Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District, 315 Armory Place.

“They had this term in there called ‘core democratic values,’” Colbeck said. “I said, ‘Whatever we come up with has to be politically neutral, and it has to be accurate.’ I said, ‘First of all, core democratic values (is) not politically neutral.’ I'm not proposing core republican values, either.”

The d-word in “core democratic values” pertains to America’s system of democracy, not to the Democratic Party. Core democratic values generally include fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Still, at Colbeck’s urging, 13 references to “core democratic values” were deleted or changed to “core values.”

The new standards were originally written and reviewed by subject-matter experts from around the state. Last year, the State Board of Education asked the state education department to convene a committee of representatives of diverse ethnic and racial groups to take a final look at the standards.

James Muffett is executive director of Citizens for Traditional Values

The group included, for example, a representative from the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society. The committee also included educators from around Michigan.

Department officials invited Colbeck to join that group after the legislator gave the State Board of Education 13 pages of notes on changes he believed needed to be made to remove partisanship from the classroom, according to Linda Forward, director of the office of educational improvement at MDE.

The invitation to Colbeck was extended because of his intense interest in the topic, not to have a Republican legislator on the team, Forward said.

But Ulbrich, the Democratic state board member, said his involvement had political implications. “There has been concern that the Legislature could potentially step in and enact its own standards,” Ulbrich said. “That would have been inappropriate and possibly unconstitutional.”

Bringing Colbeck into the process was a way to make sure conservatives had a say in the standards and decrease the chances Colbeck and other legislators drafted their own, Ulbrich said.

Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren is chairman of Patriot Week

According to Forward, without the department’s knowledge, Colbeck invited other conservatives to join the group.

Among the 21 people on the committee, five are well-known conservatives:

No Democratic legislators or activists were invited to participate in the committee.

Jim Cameron, social studies consultant for the Michigan Department of Education and head of the social studies standards revision effort, said he did not recall who Colbeck invited to join the group.

David Kallman is a prominent conservative lawyer

Kallman and Muffett told Bridge that Colbeck invited them to join the committee. Warren said the education department invited him.  Mersino could not be reached for comment.

Despite the number of conservatives on the committee, education department officials and committee members who spoke to Bridge said they felt debates about the standards were balanced.

Colbeck’s original recommendations made to the State Board of Education in 2017 also included additional suggestions, including:

  • Soft-pedaling that the Ku Klux Klan was formed as an anti-black organization. “The KKK was founded as an anti-Republican organization not an anti-black organization,” Colbeck wrote. “It just so happened that the majority of Southern blacks were in fact Republican.”
  • Replacing a section on the limits of state power with a section on the limits of the federal government over the states.
  • Deleting all references to the “common good,” “diversity” and “justice” outside the context of courts, and a request to cut all recommendations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Colbeck described as a “hate group.” (The Southern Poverty Law Center had no input into the standards, according to MDE’s Cameron, beyond rating social studies standards of all 50 states. The references to “common good,” “diversity” and “justice” in the current standards pre-date the SPLC ratings.)
  • Reducing references to Islam.
  • Adding a section on the erosion of religious freedom.

Erin Mersino is senior trial counsel for the Thomas More Law Center

Those recommendations were largely ignored, though the new proposed standards do cut a reference to the KKK that exists in the current standards.

“Patrick Colbeck told me he got about a 10th of what he wanted,” Muffett said.

Colbeck’s full recommendations, which are posted on his state Senate website, can be seen here.

Colbeck said he is satisfied with the draft standards, even though he didn’t get every change he wanted.

“Were they the ideal standards that I put out for everybody? No,” Colbeck said. “This came down to, ‘Let’s just make sure that our students hear both sides of the issue,’ and (it) came out all right.”

It’s not unusual for social studies standards to become embroiled in politics, said Lawrence Paska, executive director of National Council for the Social Studies, which represents social studies educators across the nation.

Prominent conservatives wielded influence over a draft of new social studies standards for Michigan schools. This image is one page of the document showing proposed additions and deletions.

“How we teach our collective past, our relationship to money, civic engagement, is inherently political by a degree,” Paska said. “The process of creating standards in social studies involves engaging multiple stakeholders to find a shared consensus.”

Muffett, of Citizens for Traditional Values, said he thought educators on the focus group would look at him and other conservatives on the committee “like we were Martians,” but that everyone was open to listening to differing opinions.

“For some of the traditional educators, having my side in the room made them think of things in a way they weren’t used to,” Muffett said. He cited an example of there being “nothing in (the standards) talking about people advocating for the rights of unborn humans, (so) why shouldn’t that get equal play with the homosexual lobby?”

Said Forward: “One of the things I’ve learned in this process is that people who are active in political parties on both sides of the fence ascribe meaning to words that the layperson may not. It’s important to listen to both liberals and conservatives and their points of view on topics.

“This process reflects our attempt, good or bad, to listen to the voices of many, some of whom might not be the voice I would normally reach out to, but recognizing it is very important to hear all those voices,” Forward added.

“The process reflects the importance of the topic. It represents our country.”

Ulbrich, of the state board, said she expects the board to make numerous changes to the language in the standards before they are approved. So does MDE’s Cameron.

“I anticipate pushback” on some changes,” Cameron said.

The public can attend one of five remaining MDE public meetings around the state (see box), or comment online on the new standards through June 30 here.

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Doug L
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:02am

Clearly, everyone involved wants to bias the standards to best present their personal point of view. But since Bridge seems too naive to notice, I'll point out that the expression “core democratic values” is indeed biased.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:36am

And how is it biased? If there had been a capital D then it would have been referring to the party, but since it's a small d it's referring to democracy as a thing, not the party. When one sees everything as a Republican or Democratic issue, one tends to use that filter even where it doesn't apply.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:35am

Clearly, you do not understand the difference between democratic and Democratic. Also, the term democratic republic must really make your head spin.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 12:45pm

It should have said, "core liberal democratic values," because that's what this country is, a liberal democracy.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 1:20pm

No, it isn't. It's an adjective that, in this usage, has zero to do with the Democratic party. I'm so glad my child escaped Michigan schools before this witless nonsense descended upon them, but I fear for those who haven't.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:29pm

Well said. I took my son out of the public after the second grade and put him into a private school. Even though we couldn't afford it at the time it was one of the best decisions our family ever made.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 7:36pm

I fear for my grandkids.

Karen McCoy
Wed, 06/13/2018 - 7:37pm

Hear, hear!

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 8:38am

Well then I guess we should remove the word 'republic' from the pledge then since it is biased. smh
The words democratic and republic are not the same as Democratic and Republican. The fact that people think that is biased indicates what is truly wrong with education.

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 8:44am

Apparently Colbeck had no problem with this edit and didn't feel it was biased. The edit below is fine, but taken together with the removal of "core democratic values" shows what is really at wokr here.

"Our constitutional <democracy> REPUBLIC requires active citizens"

Citizen Victory
Thu, 06/14/2018 - 9:07pm

Doug L is the reason *QUALIFIED* teachers need to be in the education field instead of the no-license hacks many Republicans are pushing for in our public schools--he doesn't even know the difference between Democratic and democratic. Sad.

When you revise history and demonize education, you get masses of sheep, too dumb to think for themselves, too lazy to do research or open a dictionary, and they blindly follow the rest of the herd off the cliff in a conga line of generational stupidity.

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 7:43pm

George Carlin addressed this many years ago:
"Obedient workers" indeed. And Colbeck is clearly a puppet who represents forces who know what democracy is and are using shills like him to gradually destroy it.

Donna Anuskiewicz
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:24am

In 1960 I entered Longwood College, located in Farmville, Virginia, the county seat of Prince Edward County, totally unaware that the local public schools had been closed the year beyond to avoid integration in classrooms. The only school in the county was Prince Edward Academy, an all-white school, established with state money.
What brought this tragic situation to my attention was the presence of three or four black children at the candy counter in a dime store at a time when they should have been in school. When I said something about the “little truants,” I was told that they had no school and received a mini-lesson in county and state politics. I was eighteen and learning the truth about the Old Dominion for the first time. I wept.
I blame part of my ignorance on my beloved mother who insisted that dinner conversations be free of discussions of race, politics, and religion. I also fault the education I received in Virginia at the time. I recall no discussions on the major topics of major topics of the day—Brown v. the Board of Education, Massive Resistance, and the struggle blacks endured. Nor did I learn about the horrors of slavery, the KKK, or the humiliations blacks suffered when they attempted to vote.
Fifty-eight years later I weep again for the mandated ignorance of Michigan children as struggles of blacks, the LGBTQ groups, women, and women are erased. We should all be appalled. We should all weep and then wipe our tears and act against this travesty.
Donna H. Anuskiewicz

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:49am

Thanks for sharing that story.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 4:30pm

Great story Donna. I feel sorry for your mother. Why did she insist on immuning herself and her family to the suffering of other human beings. Did she not realize that anyone who suppresses discussion of past violence, suppression, and Injustice, whether at a dinner table or in a classroom becomes an accessory. They are seeking to wipe out the victims memories as well as collective memory of the crimes. They are not neutral. They are accomplices. Did your mother also forbid discussion of the Holocaust?

Donna Anuskiewicz
Wed, 06/13/2018 - 8:46am

My mother stood up against my grandfather's anti-Semitism and made sure that her children did not share her father's views.

Allison T MacKay
Thu, 06/14/2018 - 2:36am

I was raised in Massachusetts, attended public schools 1-12 in a slightly higher middleclass town west of Boston, and went to college in Boston (grad 1980). This BS about so-called standards is pretty hard to relate to other than being a small-minded and dangerous misadventure. Part of what makes an education worth having is the chance to examine, bring and share new ideas, questions and criticisms to help make us all more worldly wise, exploring our country's history in hopes of helping people be capable of critical thinking. The influences and consequences and even damages of these conservative and overbearing criteria/standards are a surefire way to teach hatred and also misery, depending on who the student is. Our children will be the future so I feel they must be able to learn the how's and why's of who we are and how we got that way clearly and free of innuendos and misleading "standards". Knowledge is power but only if that knowledge is based on the truths available; without bias and with facts. REAL facts that these shmucks seem to be doing all they can to avoid seeing that happen. I'm appalled by this blatantly racist and misogynist mess this State is historically tainted with. It's already been poisoning and stunting young minds. SMH. I'm homesick now!

nancy driy
Tue, 06/19/2018 - 10:14am

I could have written your comment. And I too am home sick.

Jim tomlinson
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:24am

A new low

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:34am

LMAO (in a sad kind of way) at Colbeck thinking "core democratic values" = "core Democratic values"... proof that our education system has been messed up for a while... or maybe it's just our inability to look past the R or the D after a candidate's name rather than actually understand whether they're qualified for the job.

Amy Bloom
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 10:30am

Oakland Schools is also hosting a listen and learn session with MDE on these standards on June 20 from 6 - 8 pm. Please note that the cap and cut version provided for review is not an accurate cap and cut to what schools are currently obliged to follow. Instead, the MDE document is a cap and cut to proposed changes in 2015 that the SBE never adopted. What this means: 1. Many of the changes are not visible. To provide accurate feedback on the proposed changes will require individuals to look up the currently adopted standards. 2. Teachers and schools will each need to create their own documents showing the actual changes in order to align their curricula and common assessments.

Laura Le Fever
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:01am

It seems that there is an attempt to re-write and diminish history. I see this as a deplorable attempt to eliminate lived, seen, and documented actual history while downplaying the effects that climate change will have on our children's children in years to come.

Phyllis Barkley
Wed, 06/20/2018 - 2:49pm

I agree with Laura and so many others who are pointing out the group's goal seems to be elimination of historical and current social information. To what end are they doing this? What is wrong with receiving information surrounding educational facts, past and present, without judgement attached to them, to spark critical thinking and honest discussion? We have nothing to fear from learning the facts of major events in our history and from learning about current events, as well. Having access to that can stimulate our ability to learn and think critically; perhaps differently from those who came before us. It provides us with an opportunity to develop acceptance of others, and empathy for what others have experienced in the past and to help us stand for the rights of all. What is it about the committee individuals that causes them to try to exercise this kind of mind control? I am surprised and disappointed, especially with the professionals who serve the public, that this is what they want to do to our educational system.

Stephan B
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:06am

Bridge's characterization of the proposed standards as a "conservative twist" isn't quite correct. More than a twist, these changes are indeed twisted. They are blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist. Your readers would be well-served by a more accurate headline.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:09am


Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:09am


Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:16am

Republican Colbeck has a mission to sanitize and remove all references to the difficulties of the past which makes us who we are today - or should be. He on the other hand is perfect in every way and doesn't need the past to form new opinions about how our children need to be educated. History tells us that we are doomed to repeat past failures unless we pay attention to what has happened in our past as distasteful as it may be . New issues of today like Gay or LGBT reasonably and legally exist whether Republican Colbeck's ears are disfigured by them. He is preaching his personal biased position as a bible for all of us and our children. He doesn't have the right to use his bully pulpit to impose his biases upon our children. For example he feels there is a “jihad” plot to infiltrate the American government and wants to Soft-pedal that known fact the Ku Klux Klan was formed as an anti-black organization. He sounds like Trump on the KKK being a nice group of guys to have in your neighbor hood. Republican Colbeck is just another example of Republican Power Attempts to negatively affect our children and our lives for his own Republican wants.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:33pm

He is trying to "remove all the references to past difficulties"? No that would be the nut job mobs rioting and defacing historical statues they don't personally agree with.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 4:57pm

Assuming you are referring to confederate statues, perhaps if those statues wouldn't be placed in places of reverence and people weren't asked to pretend that those depicted weren't fighting for slavery, then it wouldn't be a problem. Perhaps they could be moved to a museum or other appropriate location with the correct placards showing their complex history. Not sure what you expect of people who have to walk by statues of people who fought for oppression of their ancestors. Rioting is clearly not right, but neither is willful ignorance and the refusal to see truth. But I suppose that maybe you personally agree with the confederates and their fight to support slavery. In that case, aren't you lucky to have the first amendment.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 7:56pm

Well, seeing as statues of Confederate officials are statues of men who committed treason against the United States of America, I see no reason they need to be celebrated in the very country against which they committed sedition. We certainly don't clamor for statues of British officials from the era of the American Revolution, that we might revere them for their passionate dedication to retaining their colonies.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 8:54pm

Those Confederate monuments were put up in the 20th century in an attempt to rewrite history. The Lost Cause movement tried to ignore that every single state that joined the Confederacy said maintaining slavery was why they joined it.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:57pm

First of all, let's be truthful and admit that academia, at all levels is more liberal than conservative, as things stand. We are not living amidst an under-representation of left-leaning values in public school curriculum. In which case, heaven help us if some small influence is made by a conservative.
Secondly, I find it surprising that none have really put together the misunderstanding regarding "core democratic values". Democratic in this sense is being used to represent the type of government that is instituted in the U.S. Unfortunately, most of the commenters here dont realize that we are a democratic republic. "Republic" is what we are. We live in a republic. We dont live in a democracy. "Democratic" is only a modifier meant to denote what TYPE of Republic we live in.
That said, let us briefly revisit the situation. Colbeck, would have actually been more true to what we are as a system of government, by using the term "core republican values" thanby using the term "core democratic values". But he didn't even argue for that position. He was willing to just use the term "core values". Some here, should be looking at that as a concession.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 5:38pm

1) Our government was created by individuals of the enlightenment period. As a result the way our government is structured, both then and now is more liberal than the current conservative thought would prefer. They overthrew a King, and the GOP just elected an individual who believes himself one. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/03/opinion/mueller-trump-executive-power... )

Let's not forget one of the greatest "liberal" presidents was Eisenhower!

The Republican party platform of 1956 said: "We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs—expansion of social security—broadened coverage in unemployment insurance —improved housing—and better health protection for all our people. We are determined that our government remain warmly responsive to the urgent social and economic problems of our people.The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:
* Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;
* Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;
* Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;
* Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;
* Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;
* Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;
* Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;
* Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;
* Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;
* Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration. In 1954, 1955 and again in 1956, President Eisenhower recommended constructive amendments to this Act."

Now, that's MY kind of Make America Great Again!

2) When the constitution was signed and ratified, yes, we were a republic. But following the 15th and 19th amendment, we are now a democratic republic. If you insist on stating that it is a republic, then I insist that you wear your powered wig and pantaloons before venturing out in public.

Of course, you could choose to accept the reality of the current administration (and the Harvard Study) that states that the US is now an oligarchy. (http://www.businessinsider.com/major-study-finds-that-the-us-is-an-oliga... )

3) A current conservative mindset sees a "concession" as "doing it MY way" regardless of facts, science or law. The current "conservative" thought is based on greed, fired by ignorance.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 9:11pm

What are you smoking? More right winger nonsense. This dunce Colbeck wants to eliminate things he doesn't like and it blatantly moronic and racist. Just erase the NAACP and LGBTQ and climate change from existence because it bothers these racist pieces of trash. The GOP is a pathetic gang of partisan racists and unqualified imbeciles, and I can provide many details on any GOPer you would like, starting with the fat orange disgrace and traitor posing as POTUS. Bob Mueller will indict Trump in July, so far 23 indictments and 5 guilty pleas into GOP crimes during the election. This is reality and happening now. Bob just indicted Konstantin Kilminik, and Russian spy who worked with Manafort and the gang of traitors during the election, DIRECT PROOF OF COLLUSION AND TREASON RIGHT THERE. Go away MAGATS

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:13pm

A concession in his mind and your mind maybe. But the function of social studies should be to inform students as well as engage them in the process. The style of government may be a republic, but we do, in fact, practice democracy. I vote, you vote, he/she/it votes. Democracy. We should not diminish the role of the individual citizen in the election of public officials simply because not every issue comes up for a broad vote.

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 12:12pm

One point of clarification:

re: "The style of government may be a republic, but we do, in fact, practice democracy."

No, not exactly. There are few true democracies in the world. Brazil is one. On election day, EVERYONE gets time off to go and vote. If you don't vote, you must prove you were incapable of doing so, or dead.

We are a democratic republic, which means that everyone that wants to participate has the chance to do so. And then even that is tempered by the electoral college in the case of the President.

So: Democratic Republic. (disclaimer: Unless you live in a red state that works hard to suppress voters by eliminating names from voting rolls.)

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 7:37am

We live in a republic with core democratic values; order and freedom must be balanced to provide the most amount of liberty for all. Removing the "democratic" part leaves the door open for claiming that our nation's core values are other values which do not allow the same rights to others.

Mick DeRoss
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 11:21am

Good to know that Patrick Colbeck is anti-democracy. I look forward to his eventual trouncing by Schuette and Calley in August.

Bob Behrman
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:24pm

Awesome news, Sen. Colbeck will have my vote. MAGA!

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 12:15pm

Scratch a conservative, find monarchist tendencies.
Why bother having rights if you choose to give them away, right? History? pfffft!

Brian Fejer
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:26pm

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)

Leslie C
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:35pm

Michigan children lose AGAIN at the dirty hands of the Republican party. Colbeck and his fellow parasites are going to omit everything his kind of people have done to impede the rights of people of color and women; AKA they are going to teach a PERVERSION of the truth in order to feel their racism is justified. Well isnt that just so MIGHTY WHITE OF THEM? Next thing you know he'll try to convince people its the christian thing to do. If this goes through parents need to step up and call BS on Colbeck and those aiding and abetting this assault on the truth.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 3:37pm

If I had only read Mr. French's & Ms Van Hulle's piece without referring at all to what Sen. Colbeck had suggested, you might have had something.

But, I didn't.

Simply going to the first page of Sen. Colbeck's posted recommendation, not only nukes The Bridge's authors feeble attempt at spin, but calls The Bridge's "objectivity" into question as well.

From page one:

"Repeated use of the term “Democracy” to describe our system of government. Correct term would be “Constitutional Republic”. Please refer to Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, our Pledge of Allegiance and Ben Franklin’s words to Mrs.Powell at the end of the Constitutional Convention. Our founders deliberately avoided the creation of a Democracy as evidenced by James Madison’s explanation of the difference between a democracy and a republic in Federalist No. 10. While we have “democratic” processes such as elections, we do not have a “democracy” but rather a “republic” governed by the confines of our social compact called the Constitution."


If I had more time this afternoon, it would be child's play for me to decimate the rest of The Bridge's article.

The Bridge already got caught by a huckster playing with facts. At the very least you should consider an apology for attempting to impugn the man's reputation.


Ron French
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 5:39pm

Hi Kevin, thanks for once again reading Bridge and, once again, taking the time to type a comment. Perhaps you missed it in the article because as you said you are busy this afternoon, but Colbeck told Bridge that he felt "core democratic values" was partisan because of the word democratic. He confirms it in his next sentence to Bridge,when he said "I'm not proposing core republican values, either."

Thanks again for continuing to read Bridge regularly, and for leaving a comment on your 341st Bridge article.



Kevin Grand
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 6:58pm

I hadn't "missed" anything, Mr. French.

I had a friend send me the proposed changes to the science and social studies curriculums [100+ pages each, if memory serves) along with Sen. Colbeck's suggested changes (a little less than 20 pages each) a few weeks ago.

Had you bothered to read Sen. Colbeck's suggestions yourself, your "democracy" argument would not have been necessary, which begs the obvious question regarding why even bothered to go there in the first place? And if you're willing to play games with something right at the top of the very first page...well the rest is patient obvious.

If you don't like Sen Colbeck's recommendations, that's fine.

Directly refute them with FACTS.

I understand that this is an alien concept to those in the media.

But, it is significantly preferable, go say nothing about being a responsible journalist, than implying that Sen. Colbeck is something that he clearly is not.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 4:12pm

Michigan reactionaries with a chip on their shoulders are scheming to politicize education in order to pursue a radical agenda that dehumanizes women, gays, people of color, and immigrants. Are we going to let them get away with this? Michigan already has a mediocre record in education. What future will Michigan have? Who will want to raise a family here?

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 4:18pm

As a high school social studies teacher in the state of Michigan these changes are absolutely ridiculous. Not every time in American History is a time to be proud of. However, our students need to be able to make the connection that those times of hate, led to more rights for all Americans. I thank God that I am still in charge in that classroom and will still teach every one of these items. Education regarding women's rights, gay rights, African American rights and human rights should not be legislated by people who have zero classroom experience and haven't set foot in a Michigan public school in over 10 years.

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 8:29pm

I have a great idea - why not let the experts on social studies instruction come up with the standards? They have spent the hours in the classroom learning about the social sciences; they are experienced in teaching said courses, and their only agenda is to Teach kids the facts they need to know to function as responsible citizens with open minds. They endure outsiders telling them how to do their jobs, when all too frequently those outsiders have neither the education nor the background to see that kids get a well rounded view of history. Let Teachers do their jobs and give them the support they deserve.

Another Teacher
Thu, 06/14/2018 - 7:40am

Agreed 100%! Finally someone points out the truth - most of the folks making the decisions don’t come near public schools yet assume they know everything about them. Teachers will do the right thing - we always do.

Ruth A. Lezotte
Tue, 06/12/2018 - 4:26pm

This is the same Trump/Pence/DeVos/ALEC BS spreading across the land. Unfortunately, they're being rather successful.
Hopefully the MDE will be drowned in responses decrying this insidious attempt to politicize state standards of ANYTHING!
For God's sake, VOTE in August and November.