Browsing articles in "State Education"
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.”

May 5, 2012
ELW

Dayton Vetoes Standards Bill

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Governor Dayton vetoed SF 1656, the bill to require legislative approval of new academic standards, on the afternoon of May 4th.  Dayton and education commissioner Casselius seemingly want the executive branch to be able to impose whatever radical standards state or national groups want with a minimum of input from the public or their representatives. Thanks go to the legislators that passed this bill and to  you for your involvement so far.  The next battle will be to make an issue of the social studies standards that have been panned by liberal and conservative groups alike as they go through the administrative rule making process this summer.  After that, citizens will need to consider electing leaders at both the state and federal levels that understand the proper constitutional role of government in education.   Please stay tuned for more details.

Apr 28, 2012
ELW

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.

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Apr 27, 2012
ELW

National Association of Scholars Review of MN Social Studies Standards

A Critical Comment of the Proposed Social Studies Standards ((8/18/2011 draft)

I   Executive Summary

Until 2003, guidance for the K-12 curriculum in Minnesota was provided by the ‘Profiles in Learning,’ a group of ten ‘Learning Areas,’ one of which (‘Peoples and Cultures’) had reference to Social Studies.

The preface to the Standards for Social Studies adopted by the Legislature in 2004 indicates that these guidelines aim to enrich the cognitive content of the K-12 curriculum. In other words, the presumption is that one goes to school to broaden one’s mind. This goal is achieved by defining the requirements not in terms of the generalized themes of a traditional social studies curriculum (e.g. Peoples and Cultures), but rather in terms of four Strands, each based on an academic discipline: History, Geography, Economics, and Government. In the History and Government Strands, on which our comment focuses, there is an emphasis on the founding of the American Republic, on the democratic institutions of the United States, and on the common values that Americans share, without regard to race, creed, or color.

The 2011 Standards do not attempt to overturn the 4-Strand or 4-discipline framework adopted in 2004, but in the Government and History sections – if not in the Economics and Geography sections – one senses an intent to tilt things back in the direction of a Social Studies framework. The Introduction states that  ‘the aim of social studies is the promotion of civic competence.’ The citation containing this phrase comes from National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, a 2010 Publication of the National Council for Social Studies, an advocacy group for Social Studies teachers. The National Council’s standards presume a curriculum that is based not on academic disciplines, but on cross-disciplinary ‘themes’ like Culture, Time and Continuity, People and Places, Personal Development and Identity, etc.  Those who remember Minnesota’s Profiles in Learning may hear in this message some familiar ideas. Accordingly, the cognitive content of the curriculum for Government and History – again not, or at least not so much, for Economics and Geography – is significantly reduced. In some areas – notably on the founding principles of our political system, and the European background from which they derived –content is drastically reduced. In return, there is a stress on students learning to participate actively in civic life. While teachers could use these guidelines in a politically neutral way, all the benchmarks given come either from a multicultural perspective, or from left-of-center agendas.

In a nutshell: the 2004 Standards for History and Government require students to learn about the world in which we live. The 2011 Standards would require them to be active in bettering the world (with the concrete examples of improvement all coming from one side of the political spectrum). If one believes, that school-years are a precious opportunity for learning about our world, and that students ought not to have political opinions fed to them by their teachers, one must conclude that replacement of the 2004 Standards for History and Government by the newly proposed Standards would represent a giant step backwards for Minnesota’s K-12 students.

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