Browsing articles in "Early Education/Nanny State"
Feb 16, 2013
ELW

State of the Union Statistics Mislead on Preschool Benefits

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

In the State of the Union speech, President Obama put forth the idea that America should spend hundreds of billions of dollars on universal preschool for four year old children and further expand government intervention in the lives of all American families. He justified this grandiose idea by trying to say that there are supposedly positive effects in universal preschool states or because preschool supposedly yields a return on investment.  Read on to find out why his statements don’t hold water and why universal preschool is such a bad idea.

President Obama is clearly ramping up his vision for government involvement in the lives of all American citizens based on the State of the Union speech and this White House Fact Sheet:

“As part of that effort, the President will propose a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.  By doing so, the President would invest critical resources where we know the return on our dollar is the highest: in our youngest children.”

It used to be, not all that long ago that statements like this elicited either high levels of mocking scorn or great anger. Sadly, the more and more people seem to be willing to accept government benefits without counting the financial or freedom cost.  Let us analyze what the president had to say in his speech about preschool to show why this idea is no where as good as it sounds:

“But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs.”  

This is not government’s job.  The US Constitution is silent on the issue of education, which means that according to the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the job of education belongs to states and the people, most especially parents.

“And that has to start at the earliest possible age. You know, study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.”

This is not true either.  According to the 15 pages of research summaries, quotes and charts, compiled on our site under the heading Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs, there are eight large-scale studies showing evidence of actual emotional harm for children involved in schooling too early.  These studies were conducted at prestigious institutions like MIT, Standford, and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.  Here is one example:

“On average, the report finds that the earlier a child enters a preschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development, while cognitive skills in pre-reading and math are stronger when children first enter a preschool program between the ages of two and three.”

But today, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.”

Quality is in the eye of the beholderThe government idea of quality is a program that teaches a state required radical curriculum so that three and four year olds will learn about careers, environmentalism, social activism and gender identity.  (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems and Dayton DOE Admits Plan to Control Preschool Curriculum via State & Federal Funds     

 “Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool.

It is probably good for their children that middle class parents can’t afford preschool, because some of the studies I mentioned above actually show greater harm to children in middle and upper class families. Here is more information about the large Stanford study:

“The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families,” said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller.”

 “And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So, tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

 It is not the lack of preschool that “shadows” poor children.  It is the lack of two parents.  As we and many others have repeatedly stated, being from single parent families results in almost every bad social outcome that can be named – poor academic performance, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual activity, and suicide.  We have also repeatedly quoted the failure of preschool programs like Head Start.  More importantly though, we have repeatedly highlighted the research of Dr. William Jeynes of the University of California at Santa Barbara who found:

Using “data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to examine the impact of student religious commitment and living in intact families on academic achievement among black and Hispanic 12th graders. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures and higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity.”

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Nov 6, 2012
ELW

Presidential Candidates on Education: Families or Government in Charge?

The following statement has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

The philosophy of education in one generation becomes the philosophy of of government in the next.

Although education continues to be overshadowed by the economy and lately by foreign affairs such as the Benghazi debacle, it has still been discussed in the presidential campaign. The candidates discussed the federal role in education including the Common Core Standards and financing in the first debate, which I outlined in our last alert. And never has there been a more distinct contrast between the philosophies of education between the two presidential candidates.

President Obama’s approach has been unwaveringly towards big government solutions. He has consistently been in favor of more federal control and spending from cradle to college, as well as hiring more teachers and expanding federal data gathering. His administration has relentlessly pursued national standards in both preschool and K-12 via the Race to the Top grant programs as well as the No Child Left Behind waivers.  As a result he is very close to achieving federalization of curriculum, because 46-1/2 states and the District of Columbia have adopted these standards.  Nine states have federalized their preschool standards and put in place early childhood quality rating systems that will control private and religious programs as well. The administration has also increased Head Start spending despite numerous studies, including one in 2010, showing it to be a failure and GAO evidence of fraud in the program’s administration.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, except for being less forthright than he needs to be about the absolute necessity of cutting federal education spending has spoken consistently about decreasing the federal role in education. He has specifically stated that it is not the role of the federal government to promote national standards.

Most importantly, Mitt Romney has spoken of the critical importance of families and parents in the education of children, especially young children. These statements are like water in the desert for families and groups that want to see power and freedom returned to families and locally elected school boards to make education decisions.

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Aug 10, 2012
ELW

Education & Childcare Votes of MN Legislative Incumbents in Contested Primary Elections

INTRODUCTION: As the Minnesota legislative primary election rapidly approaches on August 14th, we thought it would be helpful for our supporters to have some idea of how legislative incumbents involved in primaries voted on bills and amendments important to academic excellence, state’s rights, and parental autonomy.  Although Education Liberty Watch followed many other bills in the last biennium other than these, the others were mostly included in large complicated omnibus bills where the impact of votes on individual components by individual legislators was much more difficult to explain.  The omnibus bills  contained provisions that our organization both opposed and supported.  Therefore, only bills or amendments that showed clear support or opposition to Education Liberty Watch principles were included.

SYMBOLS:

+ = Education Liberty Watch preferred vote

– = Education Liberty Watch opposed vote

? = Legislator was either absent or did not vote

N/A = Legislator was not elected at the time of the vote

* = House incumbent running for a senate seat

HOUSE VOTES:

 

1)      SF 1656 2)      HF 1766 3)      SF 1755 

Amend.

4)      HF 934 

Buesgens Amend.

Rating
Tom Huntley (DFL) – 7A 

(Brandon Closkey)

 

_

 

_

 

+

 

?

 

25%

*Mary Kiffmeyer (R) – 30 

(Paul Perovich)

 

+

 

+

 

+

 

+

 

100%

*Connie Doepke (R) – 33 (Dave Osmek)  

+

 

+

 

+

 

 

75%

Steve Smith (R) – 33B (Cindy Pugh)  

+

 

 

+

 

 

 

50%

Tim Sanders (R) – 37B (Torey Hall)  

+

 

+

 

+

 

+

 

100%

Joe Mullery (DFL) – 59A (Marcus Harcus)  

_

 

_

 

+

 

 

25%

 

EXPLANATION OF HOUSE VOTES:

1)      SF 1656 (HJ 9351) to require legislative approval of new standards adoptions – Authored in the House by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), this bill required legislative approval of new academic standards.  This is very important given both the lack of constitutionality and poor quality of the common core national standards already adopted in Minnesota in English, as well as the state developed social studies standards that are very non-academic and revisionist especially in history.  For more details, see our reviews of the social studies standards (here and here) and our discussions of this legislation (here).  Sadly, although this legislation was passed by both chambers of the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Dayton. The Education Liberty Watch preferred vote on this legislation was “yea.”

2)      HF 1766 (HJ 5493) to prohibit union dues or fair share fees from being taken from childcare subsidy payments – Authored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Woodbury), this legislation was offered  in light of a huge push to unionize childcare workers by designating those that receive childcare subsidies as state employees, then subject to unionization.  The bill would have prevented union dues or fair share fees from being taken from these childcare subsidies for poor families, therefore keeping the cost of childcare from increasing.  Although opposition to unionization had wide polling support and this commonsense legislation was passed by both chambers of the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Dayton, a big supporter of unionization.  The Education Liberty Watch vote on this amendment was “yea.”

3)      Petersen Amendment to the Garafolo  Amendment of SF 1755 (HJ 9336) to require a unionization election of childcare workers – In response both to the governor’s veto of HF 1766/SF 1630 to prevent union dues and fair share fees from being taken out of childcare subsidies  and to St. Paul Judge Dale Lindeman’s ruling that the Dayton executive order for a unionization election of less than half of the affected child care providers was “an unconstitutional usurpation of the Legislature’s constitutional right to make and or amend laws,” the House Republicans gave the Democrats a chance to go on record regarding the governor’s plan.  Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) offered an amendment to a bill by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) dealing with state employee layoff policy.  The Garofalo amendment set up a childcare unionization election.  Before this was debated, Rep. Brandon Petersen (R-Andover) offered an amendment to the amendment that would have put the entire Dayton childcare union election executive order into law verbatim.  In the end, only 14 legislators, all Democrat, voted to uphold the governor’s plan, thus providing a potential appeals court with clear legislative intent that it did not support the unionization scheme. The Education Liberty Watch preferred vote on this amendment was “nay.”

4)      Buesgens Amendment to HF 934 (HJ 1638) removing the quality rating system from the omnibus education bill – This amendment to the omnibus education finance bill in 2011 offered by Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) was to remove a statewide childcare quality rating system that would have imposed sometimes radical and indoctrinating government curricular standards on private and religious preschools, decreased parental choice for families that receive childcare subsidies, and greatly increased costs and bureaucracy for independent childcare workers and programs.  See some of our extensive discussions on this legislation and program here and here.  The Education Liberty Watch   preferred vote on this amendment was “yea.”

SENATE VOTES:

Name –Party-District-(Oppoent) 1) SF 1656 

 

2) SF 1630 3) Bonoff Amend. to SF 1030 Rating
Tom Saxhaug (DFL) – 5 (Laverne Pederson)  

 

 

 

0%

Michelle Fischbach (R) – 13 (Fadumo Yusuf)  

+

 

+

 

+

 

100%

Chris Eaton (DFL) – 40 (Timothy Davis)  

 

 

N/A

 

0%

Julianne Ortman (R) – 47 (Bruce Schwichtenberg)  

+

 

+

 

+

 

100%

Dick Cohen (DFL) – 64 (Alexander Jeffries)  

 

 

 

0%

Sandy Pappas (DFL) – 65 (Marcus Walker)  

 

 

 

0%

 

EXPLANATION OF SENATE VOTES:

1)      SF 1656 (SJ 4084) to require legislative approval of new standards adoptions – Authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), this bill required legislative approval of new academic standards.  This is very important given both the lack of constitutionality and poor quality of the common core national standards already adopted in Minnesota in English, as well as the state developed social studies standards that are very non-academic and revisionist especially in history.  For more details, see our reviews of the social studies standards (here and here) and our discussions of this legislation (here).  Sadly, although this legislation was passed by both chambers of the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Dayton. The Education Liberty Watch preferred vote on this legislation was “yea.”

2) SF 1630 (SJ 5858) to prohibit union dues or fair share fees from being taken from childcare subsidy payments – Authored by Senator Ted Lillie (R-Woodbury), this legislation was offered  in light of a huge push to unionize childcare workers by designating those that receive childcare subsidies as state employees, then subject to unionization.  The bill would have prevented union dues or fair share fees from being taken from these childcare subsidies for poor families, therefore keeping the cost of childcare from increasing.  Although opposition to unionization had wide polling support and was passed by both chambers of the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Dayton, a big supporter of unionization.  The Education Liberty Watch vote on this amendment was “yea.”

3)      Bonoff Amendment to SF 1030 (SJ 1136) to implement a statewide government controlled quality rating system – This amendment to the omnibus education finance bill in 2011 offered by Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) would have implemented a statewide childcare quality rating system that would have imposed sometimes radical and indoctrinating government curricular standards on private and religious preschools, decreased parental choice for families that receive childcare subsidies, and greatly increased costs and bureaucracy for independent childcare workers and programs.  See some of our extensive discussions on this legislation and program here and here.  The Education Liberty Watch   preferred vote on this amendment was “nay.”

Apr 19, 2012
ELW

Stop Imperial Governance!!

The education finance omnibus bills were taken up in conference committee beginning at 8AM today, April 19th.  Before the House and Senate versions were even presented “side by side,” the conference committee presented a draft of the proposed conference report that appears to have been pre-negotiated between the Department of Education (DOE) and the legislators in secret without a hint of public discussion.  This draft was based on a letter from Commissioner Brenda Casselius to the chairpersons of the education committees listing eight items that she apparently would not tolerate.  Chairman of the House Education Finance Committee and chairman of today’s conference committee session proceeded to take testimony only from the commissioner and adopt only those sections of the draft with which she agreed.  Other items about which she is “concerned” may be adopted later in the discussion.

One of the most important issues among those eight that was cut out due to this imperial steamrolling by the DOE is the legislature’s important efforts to stand for legislative authority and separation of powers in the implementation of the early childhood scholarships.  We explained here that the DOE is despite glaring lack of legislative authority implementing the early scholarships by requiring the administratively expanded quality rating system (QRS) at any program where these scholarships might be used.  We had previously explained here that the QRS requires the radical and non-academic Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (a preschool version of the Profile of Learning) and many other expensive and bureaucratic hoops for private and religious providers with no real evidence of increased quality.  Hopes for fidelity to the MN Constitution and the rule of law were buoyed when both the House and Senate education committees passed legislation spelling out the use of some of that money for a voluntary, high quality, home based, parent-led literacy program as well as the House language allowing parents to make their own choice as to what program their children will attend and ensuring equity between rural and metro program funding.

The omnibus bills left committee and passed their respective floor votes with the early childhood language unchanged, despite an effort by retiring early childhood maven, Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL – Maplewood) to strip out all of the new early childhood scholarship language.  That effort was rejected not only by all of the Republicans but by 13 Democrats. [Anzelc, Eken, Falk, Fritz, Hosch, Kath, Melin, Morrow, Pelowski, Persell, Poppe, Rukavina, Simon]

Although Rep. Jennifer Loon, Senator Terri Bonoff, and Senator Gen Olson did ask the commissioner this morning about trying to find a way to fund this parent child home literacy program, it appears that now all of these efforts to provide parental choice, deal with regional fairness, & hold the executive branch accountable, as well as all of the grand words about the “legislature as a co-equal partner in government” and this expenditure being a “prerogative of the legislative branch” are now in danger of becoming irrelevant with barely a whimper from our elected representatives UNLESS YOU ACT.

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