Browsing articles in "Federal Education"
Apr 28, 2012

Urgent – Please Support Good Academic Standards in MN!

Most of the major education issues, both those followed by Education Liberty Watch and others pushed by various factions of the education community have concluded for the session. A full recap will follow in our end of the session update.  With regard to the issue of the administration’s unlawful use of the Parent Aware quality rating system in the early childhood scholarships about which we warned you in our last alert, we appreciate your involvement during the conference committee process.  You made a big difference.  Unfortunately, none of the language restoring parental choice and evenly dividing the funding between rural and metro programs survived.  But the GREAT news is that funding for the entire program for this year was cut in HALF to $2 million and a parent controlled home based literacy program that will show the lack of necessity for a QRS did survive.  This means that the next legislature can further cut or eliminate funding for this program if the governor continues to require the QRS without authority. Thank you!!

There is one very important remaining issue where your voice could still make a big difference.  We have told you about SF 1656, the bill that would require legislative approval before new academic standards revisions.  It is authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton).  The Senate passed the bill way back on March 1st even with some DFL support.  After passing the House Education Reform Committee, it is awaiting floor action.  It is on the calendar for the day, but because of the huge push for a Vikings stadium and a bonding bill in the effort to adjourn by Monday, April 30th, it may not get heard.

This legislation is very important both to deal with preventing the cancerous spread of the Common Core Standards, as well as trying to fix, if at all possible, the absolutely awful revision of Minnesota’s academic social studies standards.

Continue reading »

Apr 2, 2012

MN Continues Fight Against Federal & Executive Overreach

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President


As the state and federal controversies increase over the unconstitutional and illegal requirements of the No Child Left behind waivers and the equally unconstitutional and illegal implementation of the Common Core Standards via federal funding and requirements, Minnesota legislators continue to step up to the plate.

The House Education Reform Committee passed the companion to the bill that we described in our recent alert, MN Takes Center Stage in Academic Standards Battle this Week. The House bill authored by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton), chairwoman of the House Education Reform Committee, simply requires that there be approval by the people’s representatives in the legislature before the state department of education would adopt future Common Core Standards such as happened with the English language arts standards under the Pawlenty administration or the wholesale rewriting that is producing the very revisionist social studies standards being put in place by the Dayton administration. That bill passed the committee essentially on a party line voice vote (audio available here starting at about 27:28 with Dr. Effrem’s testimony at about 1:07 A written version of her similar recent Senate testimony is available here).

The other big development is the introduction of a bill, HF 2905 by Representative Bob Barrett (R-Schafer), and SF 2928 by Senators Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) and David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), to require the commissioner of education to seek Minnesota’s own waiver to No Child Left Behind based on the state’s needs and laws. This would be in place of the illegal, unconstitutional, conditional and temporary waiver that Minnesota received from the Obama administration, one that among its other problems, in essence requires the Common Core Standards. This bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support during the 2008 legislative session when the Democrats were in control of the legislature and passed the House floor unanimously as an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL- Columbia Heights) to the education finance omnibus bill. Sadly, it was removed from the omnibus bill after a veto threat by then Governor Tim Pawlenty.

These bills are closely related and very important, not only in Minnesota but around the nation to the whole essence of state’s rights, separation of powers, the rule of law, and academic freedom. As Neil McCluskey of the Cato Institute correctly points out, although overshadowed by the health care reform debate at the US Supreme Court, these issues are analogous to and should be viewed as the “other, almost complete, federal takeover.” Continue reading »

Mar 3, 2012

MN Takes Center Stage in Academic Standards Battle this Week

Minnesota legislators played prominent roles this week in the battle to preserve academic liberty at both the state and federal levels. These pieces of legislation that passed the Minnesota Senate and the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee respectively are very important for re-establishing constitutional authority, state sovereignty, and separation of powers, as well as protecting students from the imposition of an indoctrinating federal curriculum coerced with unconstitutional and borrowed federal dollars.

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill (SF 1656) authored by Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) that requires legislative approval before the implementation of academic standards. This is a variation of the bill that the legislature passed last year (audio of testimony available here for 3/16/11 starting at 39:50) prohibiting implementation of any current or future Common Core standards without legislative approval that was sadly vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton as part of the omnibus education finance bill and then dropped during special session negotiations.  The Common Core Standards have been rightly opposed by Education Liberty Watch and many other expert groups and individuals for a multitude of reasons including lack of constitutionality and legality, poor quality, lack of necessity and cost. (See our testimony submitted to the Senate on this bill).

The bill would have also allowed the legislature to weigh in on the horrifically revisionist, anti-academic, anti-American, pro-big government social studies standards revision that are being implemented by the very leftist members of the Dayton education department and the of the “Blame America First” crowd that resides in too much of the academic social studies community.

It is important to note that this bill passed unheralded after the Indiana Senate education committee voted down a bill to withdraw from the Common Core in part because they were too desperate to receive a waiver from Big Brothers Arne Duncan and the Obama administration on NCLB which essentially requires the Common Core in order to receive that waiver. It also occurred after the Obama administration excoriated and threatened the state of South Carolina for even considering exercising their sovereign right to withdraw from the supposedly voluntary Common Core Standards that are being imposed via bribery and blackmail with Race to the Top, Obama’s NCLB reauthorization plans and NCLB waivers. The South Carolina bill, supported by conservative heroine, Governor Nikki Haley, was voted down in a subcommittee of the Senate Education Committee. The bill will still be reviewed by the full Senate Education Committee. Continue reading »

Feb 24, 2012

Government Preschool Tyranny – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”

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 »