City reps evaluate science

Two committees will start work on education standards July 31

By Matthew Stolle

The state committees responsible for developing new academic standards in science and social studies will have better representation this year from Rochester and southeastern Minnesota than previous committees.

A common complaint heard from local educators was that last year's math committee lacked representation from Rochester, an area rich in math talent.


This time, there will be five people from southeastern Minnesota, including three from Rochester, on the science committee. One Rochester resident, school board member Fred Daly, will serve on the social studies committee.

The committees, whose members were announced on Thursday, are to draft academic requirements, spelling out the facts and concepts public school students will be expected to know at each grade level.

The 41-member science committee and 44-member social studies committee will begin their work July 31.

One Rochester resident on the committee is Robert Snyder, a sixth-grade teacher at John Adams Middle School who has been involved with working on curriculum for the last eight years.

Synder said he believes there is a knowledge base, a set of facts and formulas, that all kids need to know. What he worries about -- and hopes to avoid -- is creating a base that is focused too much on minutiae.

"Part of being a good teacher is teaching kids how to access the information they need," Synder said. "I'm concerned that the testing will require getting away from hands-on learning because of the amount of knowledge that is going to be required."

Synder also wants to ensure that the integrity of the science curriculum is maintained. In Kansas and Ohio, battles have flared between proponents of creation and evolution.

State Commissioner of Education Cheri Pierson Yecki is seeking to defuse a potentially rancorous discussion by instructing the science committee to avoid any clashes over the teaching of evolution.


Synder believes schools should be teaching prevailing scientific theory, which is evolution. Current theory might change, he said.

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