Browsing articles in "State Education"
Sep 29, 2012
ELW

States Starting to Rebel Against Common Core

Although education has not been a front burner issue in this election cycle, there is some evidence that word about the dangers of and problems with the Common Core national standards, about which we have warned you for a long time, is slowly getting out.

In addition to Education Liberty Watch, the group of academics, policy makers and individuals that developed and gained over 100 original signatures on a counter-manifesto against the Common Core, The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Truth in American Education, teachers, parents, and policy makers are working hard to educate and to protest this loss of autonomy, local control and academic rigor.  Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in interviews on Fox News and the Mike Huckabee show pointed out the constitutional and academic dangers of the Common Core in his new book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. In it, he said:

The core of the hard-left’s education agenda – a program shared by Obama, Ayers, and Darling-Hammond alike – has three parts: 1) a politicized curriculum that promotes leftist notions of “social justice,” 2) reducing “disparate outcomes” between students in different districts by undercutting standards, and 3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban schools. Achieving these goals on a broad scale requires the federal government to usurp local control of K-12 schooling.

Obama is half-way there.

How did he do it?  Instead of submitting his controversial education proposals to Congress and kicking off a vigorous national debate, Obama quietly marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top education initiative. Since the stimulus bill was rushed through Congress with barely any debate on economic policy, much less education, Obama never had to go public with his plans.

By coordinating with outside groups not accountable to the voters, like the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, the White House then orchestrated the creation of a national Common Core of education standards, with an accompanying curriculum and tests.

Supposedly, these standards have been voluntarily adopted by more than 40 states. In fact, by effectively conditioning eligibility for Race to the Top grants on participation in the Common Core, the Obama administration has forced economically pinched states to surrender control of their school curricula to the federal government. Cleverly, states have been pressed to sign on to the Common Core before the actual standards, curricula, and tests are revealed in a second Obama term. The entire scheme is arguably both illegal and unconstitutional. Yet it is moving forward, and the public knows virtually nothing about it.

In addition, state legislators and governors are also starting to respond to this unconstitutional federal takeover of education curriculum. According to the states listed or not listed on this comprehensive review table by Daniel Thatcher of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the breakdown of how states are dealing with the Common Core is as follows:

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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.”

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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