Browsing articles in "Early Education/Nanny State"
Oct 26, 2010
ELW

Kindergarten Readiness: A Useless and Dangerous Concept

The usual big government, control our children from birth crowd constantly harp at parents and policymakers that fifty percent of Minnesota children come to school not prepared or not fully prepared for kindergarten.  They say that only a massive expansion of government money and control will solve this “crisis.”

The Scholar’s Notebook blog reported on a candidate forum in Senate District 43 held on October 18th where early childhood issues were discussed.  I attended that forum and heard incumbent Democrat Rep. John Benson dutifully chanted that exact meme that 50% of Minnesota children were not prepared for kindergarten, that it is a crisis, and that the state needs to provide more funding for early childhood programs. Continue reading »

Sep 30, 2010
ELW

Preschool Actually Harms Reading Achievement

Education is a very big issue in the state of Minnesota and across the nation this election season, as it should be for comprising 40-50% of many state budgets. Using Minnesota as an example, all three gubernatorial candidates in their budget plans, debates, and speeches are discussing the importance of “investing” in early childhood education. Democrat Mark Dayton and Independence Party Candidate Tom Horner constantly discuss the importance of early childhood, with Horner boldly calling for “cradle to grave” government education. Republican Tom Emmer, to his credit, has been emphasizing the importance of literacy and school choice regarding preschool, especially for poor children to close the “achievement gap.”

However, none of the candidates seem to understand the miserable failure of early childhood education in improving literacy or closing the achievement gap. In fact, they all seem to have been taken in by the usual suspects in the preschool cabal into believing that “kindergarten readiness,” however subjectively defined, is equivalent to improved reading performance. Nothing could be farther from the truth.Reading is the most fundamental of academic skills and if especially poor children are not taught well how to do so, they are doomed to life of failure. By 4th grade, when the effects of preschool should be most apparent, Pre-K actually at best, leaves reading scores unchanged and in the worst case scenario finds them to be lower than the national average. The news is even worse for poor children, making the achievement gap worse Continue reading »

Feb 20, 2010
ELW

DFL Bills Promote Mental Health Curricula, Continue Child Care Takeover and Micromanage High School Counseling

Continuing the big government trend to spend money that neither the state nor federal governments have for ideas that are not only not at all needed, but are actually intrusive and harmful, a trio of bills will be heard in House education committees this week:

1. HF 664 (Welti)/ SF 1531 (Torres Ray) heard in the House Education Policy Committee on 2/17 at 8:30 AM – This bill as introduced required the commissioner of education to establish a model mental health curriculum for grades 7-12.  The proposed substitute amendment instead encourages districts to develop these curricula and demands that the Minnesota Department of Education provide support based on the national health education standards and a bunch of Minnesota developed benchmarks that are not even easily available for public review.

This is a bad idea for numerous reasons.  First, national and international groups like the World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General, and authors of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual all admit that the definitions of both mental health and mental illness, especially in children and adolescents, is difficult to uniformly describe and is based on ever-changing societal and cultural norms.  Secondly, this is further psychologization of curriculum open to political indoctrination and labeling.  Thirdly, it is a diversion from academic curricula when math and reading scores are stagnant and there are large achievement gaps between poor students often from single parent families and middle class students.  Finally, neither cash-strapped districts nor the state department that is subject to further budget cuts from the governor’s proposed budget balancing plan can afford this. Continue reading »

Feb 5, 2010
ELW

Race To The Top: Federal Control of Education On Steroids

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Origins and Implication of Race to the Top

Without the slightest bit of legislative discussion in either chamber, the Obama administration quietly slipped $4.35 billion of education funding into the stimulus (“porkulus”) bill passed last year for a program called Race to the Top (RTTT).

With the nearly one trillion dollars spent for the stimulus as well as the trillions spent or proposed for the federal budget, health care, and cap and trade legislation one might reasonably wonder why a few billion dollars for more federal education spending is any big deal.  The answer is that federal government is using this program to bribe states to accept even more federal control of education, a constitutionally and traditionally state function.  This dangerous trend of more federal control of education was greatly accelerated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. However because of the intense opposition engendered by NCLB from all points on the political spectrum and the difficulty that the Obama administration has run into trying to implement its expansive and statist domestic agenda, RTTT is accomplishing more of that same federal control without having to go through the messy process of reauthorizing the controversial NCLB.

Components of Race to the Top

Race to the Top has several components, but there are several that are extremely dangerous for state sovereignty in education, parental rights to control the raising and education of our children, and privacy, respectively: Continue reading »