9/11 education is missing from MN social studies standards

For students in school today, September 11, 2001 is history. But the day that forever changed America is not included in Minnesota’s K-12 social studies standards.

It used to be included. And it should still be included.

Minnesota’s original statewide social studies standards, approved by the legislature in 2004, covered September 11, 2001 in a U.S. history benchmark for grades 4-8 and a high school world history benchmark. (Four other benchmarks listed the War on Terrorism/terrorism in provided examples.)

United States History Grades 4-8: Contemporary America (1980-present)
Students will analyze challenges of a post-communist world, especially September 11, 2001 and its aftermath.

World History Grades 9-12: The Post-War Period (1945-present)
Students will demonstrate knowledge of the continuing impact of September 11, 2001.

Both of these 9/11 benchmarks are not in the current social studies standards being taught (adopted in 2011), although there is a high school benchmark that requires students to explain the United States’ involvement in the “global war on terror.”

There is no mention of September 11 or terrorism in the 2021 draft standards that are in the process of being revised.

Educators could be teaching this content on their own, but without its inclusion in state standards and benchmarks, it is not a piece of history students will have to study in order to graduate from high school.

This is concerning, as students should absolutely learn about the events leading up to 9/11, the impact such events had on the U.S. and how the tragic day united people from all walks of life by emphasizing our shared humanity — something that has been muddied and undermined as of late.

Only 14 states include the 9/11 terror attacks in their education standards: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

September 11 is a defining moment of contemporary history, and the day’s events have shaped the world students have grown into. Its inclusion in social studies standards is one step toward ensuring students learn a complete account of our nation’s history.


Over 17,000 Minnesotans submitted comments to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Social Studies Standards Committee voicing concern about the second draft of K-12 social studies standards released July 30. MDE and the committee acknowledged the massive wave of comments and are currently working on a third draft. Follow the Raise Our Standards campaign page for updates on the revision process.