Karen R. Effrem, MD – President
The appalling report of government agents demanding inspection of preschoolers’ lunch, judging the home packed lunch not adequately nutritious, seizing the contents, and then billing the family for the government imposed mystery meat nuggets has rightly stirred a storm of controversy. American citizens living in what they thought was the “land of the free and the home of the brave” might be tempted to think that this is just an isolated incident and wouldn’t apply to them or that it only deals with lunch. However, after review of the tyrannical requirements and goals of multiple other government programs for young children, the idea from the classic Bachman Turner Overdrive tune “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is far more apropos.
Education Liberty Watch has been warning of the dangers to freedom, parental autonomy, academics, and health of programs like quality rating systems (QRIS), Head Start, home visiting, mental health screening, and the preschool Race to the Top (RTT-ELC) for a long time. However, we will focus on Race to the Top because it is the most current and the most comprehensive example of the efforts to consolidate government control over young children in so many interconnected and overarching ways.
The preschool situation is analogous to what is going on in health care. Unfortunately though, instead of fighting against the federalization of preschool the way they have against the federalization of health care, many Republicans have been deceived by big business and liberal foundations that government preschool will somehow close achievement gaps and be the next silver bullet in education. This is despite the facts that there is no evidence of long-term academic gain for children involved in preschool (in fact there is actual evidence of academic harm), and the very people who have presided over the destruction of K-12 public education in this nation – the federal government and unions – want to now control preschool education as well.
The following excerpts are from a summary of the big government nanny-state plans from all of the applicants for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge at a recent forum held in Washington, DC and put on by the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative. For the sake of time and space, here are some highlights of the most chillingly freedom robbing initiatives from the nine winners of the $550 million boondoggle (Only winning applications will be discussed for time and space reasons. Text in bold italic font is added emphasis) :
1) More Lunch Box Monitoring – Delaware in its application highlighted plans to expand its health and nutrition guidelines and “will include an online version of a toolkit that includes a self-assessment, nutrition rules, tools to plan healthy eating, feeding guidelines, family engagement guidance, and physical activity guidelines.” It sounds as though we will soon be hearing similar stories out of Delaware as we did out of North Carolina. Continue reading »
As mentioned in our last alert, a lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County by a group of childcare providers trying to stop the unionization of home based childcare providers via an election ordered by Governor Mark Dayton using an executive order. This has been seen as a payback to two major public employee labor unions. Only about 4300 of the state’s 11,000 childcare workers would have been able to vote, but the decision made by the union in negotiations with the state would have affected the entire group. The suit was supported by the MN Senate which filed a friend of the court brief. This was after an excellent letter was sent by the House leadership asking for the election to be stopped and then rejected by the governor. On Monday December 5th, Judge Dale Lindman issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the mailing of ballots scheduled for December 7th.
There were two major legal and freedom issues underlying the judge’s decision. The first was the separation of powers issue. Although the judge was not trying to interfere with the governor’s power to issue an executive order even to order a unionization election, he apparently saw that that power only extended to authorizing the election for public employees. Since even those childcare providers that receive government subsidies are still private sector employers and business owners, not state employees, he seems to rightly understand that a change of law would be required that cannot be accomplished merely by an executive order. Judge Lindman stated, “If unionization of day care is to become the law of Minnesota, it must first be submitted to the lawmaking body of the state.”
The other major issue involved in the decision to issue the TRO was the unequal implementation of this election. Unionization opponents rightly argued that all childcare providers in the state should be able to vote in the election, not just the 4300 that receive government subsidies, because decisions on regulations and standards negotiated by the unions would affect all of the providers. The judge agreed when he said that he was “bothered” by the unequal implementation and that conducting the election in that manner would have been “very harmful to all parties involved.” It is very ironic that the governor still thinks that his methods are proper, saying after the judge’s decision, “”I continue to believe that in a democracy, people should have rights to elections to determine their own destinies,” when in fact this lack of equal protection would have had a minority of providers “determining the destiny” for the majority.
Thankfully, the judge understood the assault on freedom and good government that this executive order and the election represented. On a much different scale, his wise decision kept December 7th from becoming a new kind of “Day of Infamy” with regard to government and union tyranny that would have increased government and union control resulting in increased regulations and cost and decreased quality, choice, and access. Freedom for parents to raise and educate their children, including childcare, as they see fit and for these independent businesses to continue are among the many freedoms that the brave men killed 70 years ago and the many others before and since died to protect.
However, although this battle is won, the war is not over. This was only a temporary restraining order and another hearing is scheduled for January 16th. Although it seems that the judge is sympathetic to the views of those opposing unionization, there is more that needs to be done. Just as this alert is being prepared, the governor’s office has announced that he will contest the issuance of the temporary injunction next month.
In addition, as the legislature prepares to reconvene in January, a related issue needs to be discussed. The governor’s unilateral expansion of the quality rating system (QRS) that is supported by the big business groups combined with the legislature’s ill-considered decision to spend money on early childhood scholarships will create more providers receiving subsidies. This will feed into the Dayton/union view that any business or individual that has customers that receive government subsidies are subject to unionization, therefore creating a bigger pool of providers that would be in favor of unionization. It will be very important for the legislature to not only continue their brave fight against childcare unionization and pass right to work legislation in this state, but also to resist the Dayton/big business plans to further expand the QRS either in the state or as part of the Race to the Top initiative.
Here is what you can do:
1) Support the freedoms of independent childcare business, the families they serve and all of us as overburdened taxpayers by contributing to the legal costs to stop this vote.
2) Keep informed about this situation by continuing to follow alerts at Education Liberty Watch, Child Care Freedom and www.childcareunioninfo.com and please tell your friends, especially if they are childcare providers.
3) Please thank the House and Senate leadership and other legislators for their efforts to stop this vote.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch 651-296-5981 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Health & Human Services Chairman David Hann 651-296-1749 email@example.com
Senate State Government Chairman Mike Parry 651-296-9457 firstname.lastname@example.org
House Speaker Kurt Zellers 651-296-5502 email@example.com
House Majority Leader Matt Dean 651-296-3018 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep, Mary Franson 651-296-3201 email@example.com
4) Please remind the leadership and your own legislators that the quality rating system and Race to the Top will make stopping the union efforts more difficult as well as unnecessarily expand the role of both the state and federal governments in children’s lives and providers businesses.
Here is a quick recap on the latest news regarding Governor Mark Dayton’s illegal effort to unionize independent small childcare businesses via executive order:
1) Childcare workers after protesting at a rally and speaking at four different legislative hearings have brought a lawsuit against Governor Dayton and the Bureau of Mediation Services to prevent the forced unionization election by executive order of all 11,000 in-home childcare providers in the state of Minnesota while only allowing approximately 4300 to vote. The brief makes what Education Liberty Watch sees as a compelling argument that the executive order is illegal and unconstitutional under both Minnesota and federal law.
- See a discussion of the press conference for the lawsuit here and a copy of the actual complaint here.
- See video of the November 21st House Commerce Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Joe Hoppe here. The union representatives after being unable to answer any questions at previous hearings failed to come to this hearing at all and the head of the Bureau of Mediation Services who did come was unable to definitively cite any statute providing authority for this election.
- Listen to audio of the October 24th House Health and Services Policy Committee hearing here. and listen to audio of the October 24th House Commerce hearing here. (Follow links for October 24th hearings).
- See video of the full September 21st Senate joint Government Operations and Health and Human Services committee here and a 13 minute excerpt here.
2) Just hours ago, the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) voted to join this lawsuit by filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the these brave daycare providers. For details see this Politics in Minnesota article. Senator Dick Cohen (DFL-St. Paul) tried to make the committee’s decision about politics. Senators Koch, David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), and Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) did an excellent job of citing the fact that the governor is usurping legislative authority and legislating by executive order.
3) A rally to show support the rights of these independent small business owners to remain free to provide their services without union or further government interference is planned for Saturday, December 3rd at 12 Noon at the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda. Please come and show your support for these business providers and parents. If Governor Dayton and the unions succeed in implementing this union by executive order, childcare costs will increase for parents already struggling in this difficult economy and other private businesses will potentially come under this forced unionization scheme both of which has happened in other states. For more details, please see and then distribute the rally flyer.
Sadly, by setting a vote on childcare unionization by executive order on November 15th, Governor Mark Dayton has again involved himself in another unconstitutional/illegal effort to pay off political cronies, expand government, usurp parental authority, and harm small business.
The governor ordered the Bureau of Mediation Services to do a mail-in ballot, but only of childcare providers that serve children who receive government subsidies for their care. This means that the approximately 4,000 provider minority that already has a stake in government subsidies and programs and is more likely to support unionization, will then be able to make this momentous decision to form a statewide childcare union for the entire group of 11,000 childcare providers in the whole state of Minnesota.
The executive order states that no one will have to join a union or pay dues if the vote is in favor of unionization. What is not stated is that the decisions made by the group that does involve itself in negotiating with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will affect ALL childcare providers in the state. In addition, there has been no concrete delineation by union proponents about fair share dues that could well be charged to those who do not join or that dues may well be extracted directly from the government subsidy payments before going to the already underpaid childcare providers. No union proponents have been able to refute the obvious – that because of these kinds of issues, costs will increase and access to affordable childcare will decrease.
Popular opinion is certainly against this move by the governor. In a November 7th Survey USA political poll commissioned by KSTP, one of the questions was, “Should daycare workers in the state of Minnesota form labor unions and be considered public employees?” The response was overwhelmingly against this idea. Overall there was 68% opposed and 19% in favor with 13% not sure. Even in the liberal and Democratic demographics the opposition was 52% and 60% respectively with support being only in the teens.
All of this is quite analogous and directly related to the governor’s rogue decision to unilaterally expand the quality rating system (QRS) using federal money, despite near unanimous votes by the legislative majorities against doing so during the 2011 regular and special sessions. As Education Liberty Watch warned during the session and stated in our analysis of Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, which seeks to greatly expand the QRS system in Minnesota and across the nation, when childcare providers need to be rated in order to receive scholarships and other government subsidies, these workers will be considered public employees and as in other states, subject to unionization. These QRSs are not the touted “Consumer Reports” style information sources for parents about childcare, but rather a tangled, bureaucratic, and expensive government takeover of private childcare that in the prescient words of a former Democrat Assistant Attorney General back in 1994 will more than likely “restrict entry, limit competition, reduce access, limit parental choice, and increase cost.” Continue reading »
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