Browsing articles in "State Education"
May 6, 2011

Please Comment!! Social Studies Standards Continue Disastrous Course in Final Draft!

The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here until May 8th.

Although some good change has come out of the social studies standards process which is now in its final phases, thanks to your good efforts and comments, sadly, many of the same problems plus some others we have found are present since our last report. A more detailed report on the U.S. History strand is coming soon from an attorney who teaches the Constitution.  Below are some highlights and lowlights.

Some Good News:

1)      The Declaration of Independence is now mentioned and discussed at the high school level:

“Analyze the impact of early documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on the development of the government of the United States.”

2)      One Declaration principle of “popular sovereignty,” also called “consent of the governed” is specifically mentioned.

3)      Property rights are mentioned in the context of the failure to secure them being an economic problem.

4)      The Second Amendment is mentioned, which is better than the federally subsidized civics textbook. We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution that fails to mention the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments at all.

5)      Capitalism is now mentioned in a neutral context instead of a negative one in economics and the world history strands:

“Compare and contrast the characteristics of traditional, command (planned), market-based (capitalistic), and mixed economic systems.”
“Explain the ideas of capitalism, communism, and socialism and analyze the impact of these beliefs on politics, industry, and labor relations in later 19th-century Europe.”

6)      The United States is still referred to as a republic in the standards and benchmarks:

“The U.S. republic is based on specific principles and beliefs.” (Standard)

Many Grave Causes of Concern – Here is a far from comprehensive list: Continue reading »

Apr 18, 2011

Media and Presentation Alert

MPR Invites Dr. Effrem to Debate Early Childhood Quality Rating Systems Online Starting 4/18

After your great work and support to get rid of the ineffective, bureaucratic quality rating system (QRS) in the House education spending bill, the media, particularly the more liberal media took notice.  Education Liberty Watch was mentioned three times in the ensuing days.  Two of those mentions took place on very liberal websites, Growth and Justice and MinnPost, where there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth about the House’s very wise decision to get rid of that bad program. Dr. Effrem published a rebuttal to those stories/editorials here. The other mention occurred a couple of days ago on Politics in Minnesota as part of their report on the clash within the GOP between the big government interests of big business and the small government interests of the conservative grassroots.  (More about this will be written soon)

All of this aroused the interest of Mr. Michael Caputo, moderator of Minnesota Public Radio’s online discussion and debate forum Insight Now.  He has invited Dr. Effrem and Todd Otis of Ready4K, a liberal pro-government involvement in preschool proponent to debate the merits or lack thereof of quality rating systems.  The debate will begin here today (4/18) with opening statements and will conclude on the 21st.  Mr. Caputo said that comment would be welcome, but that people must register here.  Please do join the debate!

Dr. Effrem to Speak At HD 50B Event at Moe’s in Mounds View on 4/25 at 7:00 PM

Many thanks go the House District 50B Republicans for inviting Dr. Effrem to speak on education issues in St. Paul and Washington at their event on April 25th at 7 PM at Moe’s in Mounds View.  Details and directions are available here.  Please join Dr. Effrem and the House district 50 B Republicans for a lively discussion!

Apr 5, 2011

Rebuttal Regarding Parent Aware

It seems that the liberal/progressive proponents of expansion of the state early childhood bureaucracy and government control of the  education of our children from the womb are upset with the House’s wise vote last week to get rid of the Parent Aware quality rating system and the Senate’s equally wise vote to keep it out of each chamber’s education spending bill.  Instead of engaging in a healthy debate about the merits or lack thereof of this important public policy issue, both writers refused to say anything about the very substantive reasons that both the Minnesota Family Council and Education Liberty Watch opposed that very questionable piece of legislation.  Here is Education Liberty Watch’s response, since attempts to post comments on the website are currently blocked:

Mr. Smith,

With all due respect right back at you, perhaps both you and Ms. Hawkins could do a little more reasonable investigative reporting of the reasons for the opposition of both Education Liberty Watch and the Minnesota Family Council to the idea of creating a new statewide bureaucracy that puts all sorts of unnecessary mandates on private child care businesses and preschools that “volunteer” to take the Parent Aware scholarship money before resorting to ad hominem attacks about uninformed religious and social conservatism.

Just to make your job a little easier, here is a summary (Extensive quotes and references are available in the early childhood section of our website.):

1) Both MELF’s own and national evaluators admit that there is no way to know if quality rating systems improve child outcomes or program quality.  (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems)

2) MELF’s evaluation shows that only 14% of eligible providers in the pilot areas enrolled in Parent Aware.

3) Again from MELF, only 25% of parents with children in Parent Aware Programs had even heard of Parent Aware, up from a whopping 20% the year before.  It is not exactly wildly popular, and parents even in the program are not using it to make informed childcare decisions. (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems)

4)Two thirds of the programs in the pilot project received a free pass of an automatic four star rating, including a number of Head Start programs.  Head Start in national studies published in 2010 has been found to have any positive beneficial effects fade by 1st grade, harm the math skills of 3 year olds and had several programs commit fraud regarding income verification. (See Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs) Continue reading »

Apr 3, 2011

Bad Pre-K Policy Gone from House K-12 Bill! Now to Work on Spending!!

Great News on Preschool Policy

HF 934, the omnibus K-12 education finance bill was passed by the House at about 3 AM on Wednesday, March 30th.  Thanks to all of your calls and emails, an excellent amendment by Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), support from Rep.  Pat Garofalo (R – Farmington and chairman of the House Education Finance Committee) as well as strong speeches by Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe), Rep.  Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), the very concerning language that would have taken the bureaucratic, freedom robbing, ineffective quality rating system statewide about which we warned you is  GONE!!

The amendment to get rid of the Parent Aware quality rating system was supported by the vast proportion of Republicans and one Democrat who were concerned with the expansion of preschool spending and policy at a time when there is no money and when there is no evidence that either preschool or quality rating systems work and evidence that there is harm.  The vote on the amendment was along party lines with the following exceptions:

VOTING YES66 of the 72 Republicans (see exceptions below) and Representative Kerry Gauthier (D-Duluth).

VOTING NO:  All of the Democrats except  Rep Gauthier and Republican Representatives Representatives Jim Abeler (Anoka),  Sarah Anderson (Plymouth), Connie Doepke (Orono), Jennifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Carol McFarlane (White Bear Lake), Branden Petersen (Andover), and Steve Smith (Mound)

NOT VOTING: Atkins, John Benson, Hausman, Huntley, Laine, and Ward (All D) and Murdock (R).

Education Liberty Watch is extremely appreciative to the House Republicans and Rep. Gauthier that voted yes for this work.  To thank them yourself, especially Representatives  Buesgens,  Garofalo, Gruenhagen, Franson, Drazkowski, and Gauthier you may click here for phone numbers or email addresses.

Spending Still a Very Important Issue – Need to Demand Fiscal Sanity Continue reading »