Feb 9, 2009

Action on Radical Early Childhood Bills

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“Most citizens would recognize the anti-bias curriculum as a highly politicized curriculum which seeks to impose a particular ideological world-view upon children. Most taxpayers would simply be astounded that tax dollars are routinely being spent toward the state-by-state implementation of these apparently politicized standards.” (Mark Kindt, former Ohio and West Virginia Democrat Assistant Attorney General.)

With a simple committee amendment, House Democrats reintroduced for the state’s youngest children what amounts to the old, rejected Minnesota K-12 education system called the Profile of Learning.  Our last alert described how HF 40 and HF 246 would impose a statewide quality rating system (QRS) on both public and private childcare programs.  With this amendment, every child in the program that receives state money will be taught the controversial Early Childhood Indicators of Progress and assessed using the subjective, invalid Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.

Despite assurances from the authors that participation is “voluntary,” the goal of these bills is to eventually impose a radical non-academic government-driven curriculum and assessments on all children and childcare programs in the state. It will ultimately drive programs out of business that don’t comply with these preposterous outcomes.  The word “voluntary” appears nowhere in either bill.  Rep. Nora Slawik (D-Maplewood), committee chairwoman and author of HF 246, made it clear that childcare providers will feel “pressured to get rated” by the state.

Representatives Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) and Keith Downey (R-Edina) asked tough questions about the program’s indoctrination and its imposition on both public and private childcare programs.  (Audio of the hearing, including Dr. Effrem’s testimony, may be accessed here, January 29th hearing.).  In the Senate, Senators David Hann (R- Eden Prairie) and Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley) also asked tough and insightful questions during discussion of SF 72.  (Audio of that hearing, including EdWatch’s testimony, may be accessed here, January 29th Education hearing.)

How are these outcomes radical?

The state’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress addresses both sexual politics and environmentalism. Following these outcomes are quotes from national groups and opinion leaders that are pushing this kind of indoctrination:

Outcome–“Support children’s developing understanding of their gender and cultural identity” What is gender identity? Why should it to be taught to three and four year old children? How it will close the achievement gap for poor and minority children?  The curriculum Making Room in the Circle: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families in Early Childhood Settings defines gender identity:

“Refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being either male or female, or something other or in between. Because gender identity is internal and personally defined, it is not visible to others.”  (Emphasis added.)

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC), whose accreditation results in both more Minnesota state funding for childcare programs and gains a higher rating in the Parent Aware quality rating system, promotes these types of “gender anatomy and gender identity” exercises in its curriculum:

“Make copies of an outline of a body as drawn by a preschooler, and in small groups ask children to fill in all the body parts, and to show if the person is a girl or boy.” (Derman-Sparks, L. (1989). Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, p. 53)

“Have anatomically correct dolls available…For example, tell a persona doll story where a few of the dolls ask questions about what makes them a boy or a girl” (Ibid.)

Outcome–Share responsibility in taking care of their environment” Given that the earth has been cooling for the last ten years instead of warming and that environmental science is hotly debated among many well-published and credentialed scientists, why are this standard being used for for three and four year olds?  These quotes from national and international sources clearly outline their goal:

“When should environmental education begin-in the third grade; first grade; kindergarten? Even earlier. Environmental education based on life experiences should begin during the very earliest years of life. Such experiences play a critical role in shaping life-long attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior toward natural environments” (Tilbury, 1994; Wilson, 1994 as quoted in Wilson, Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, June 2003 – Emphasis added.)

Reorienting existing education programs. Rethinking and revising education from nursery school through university to include more principles, knowledge, skills, perspectives and values related to sustainability in each of the three realms – social, environmental, and economic – is important to our current and future societies.- (UNESCO Framework for Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, 9/5/03 – Emphasis added.)

Government control of private childcare has been tried before and failed.  The state of Virginia implemented a similar system in the early to mid-1990s. It created corruption, lack of parental choice for childcare programs, driving private and religious programs out of business, and imposing politically correct curricula. The Republican governor called for an audit of the program and eventually shut it down.  The audit was done by Mark Kindt, former Ohio and West Virginia Democrat Assistant Attorney General.  His report was titled Improper Special Interest Influence in Key Contracts: An Analysis with Preliminary Observations on the Politicized Agenda in Child Day Care. Several problems he highlighted in these kinds of government regulatory programs included:

Issuance of complex regulations for day care licensure “under the disingenuous guise of protecting the health and safety of children but which in reality are calculated to restrict entry, limit competition, reduce access, limit parental choice, and increase cost”
Development of a politicized core curriculum for day care providers (a so-called national standard) to be used to form the minds of children with a radical ideology before they enter public schools;
Further restricting the free choice of parents who receive government subsidies by limiting the access of their children to affordable quality day care by promoting various requirements that discriminate against religious providers of day care.
Development of a college curriculum designed to turn out “politically correct” day care professionals
Accreditation of day care centers based on their adoption of the approved curriculum and membership in affiliated organizations

All of these activities are either already currently in Minnesota law, even under a Republican administration, or proposed in these bills.

Here are a couple of quotes from Mr. Kindt’s report that are especially salient to quality rating systems, like the pilot program currently in law in Minnesota, and state early childhood outcomes which are derived from federal outcomes and from national curricula like NAEYC’s Anti-Bias Curriculum:

“The national-to-local model for the child care services presents significant public policy issues relating to questionable political content in day care curriculum and to substantial questions of public accountability for so-called public-private partnerships.”

“Most citizens would recognize the anti-bias curriculum as a highly politicized curriculum which seeks to impose a particular ideological world-view upon children. Most taxpayers would simply be astounded that tax dollars are routinely being spent toward the state-by-state implementation of these apparently politicized standards.”

This is eerily similar to the failed Minnesota K-12 Profile of Learning and the five-year battle for its repeal.  The state imposed federal and national standards on all public schools.  Minnesota citizens ultimately rejected this radical, subjective, top-down system for K-12.  It would be tragic if the state imposes that same idea on our youngest children AND on private childcare and preschool programs. In these extremely difficult economic times, the taxpayers of Minnesota cannot afford the costs of implementing this idea statewide, because it will increase costs and decrease choice and freedom. More importantly we cannot allow the state to take over the control of the hearts and minds of our youngest children.

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