THERE IS NO CRISIS
“The total percentage [3-10% for 2009] of students rated on average as not yet showing proficiency in each of the five developmental domains has remained consistent throughout the seven years of the study.” – 2009 Readiness Study Report, MDE, April 2010, p. 13
“The advocates sponsoring these ads base their claims on some early learning studies done by the Minnesota Education Department. But those studies did not draw dividing lines between children at different levels of development. They did not brand some students ready or not ready for kindergarten. The Education Department studies do show that between 2 percent and 11 percent of children do not yet demonstrate some skills or behaviors they need for success in school. Another group, about half, are in the process of acquiring those skills. They should succeed in schools that offer solid academic programs. The rest show full proficiency. If the claims of the advertising campaign were true, it would certainly show up three years later in the third-grade Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results for reading and math ability. In fact, in 2004, 74 percent of Minnesota third-graders achieved proficient scores in the reading assessment; 71 percent were proficient or better in math. Some of those successful students must have been in the group not fully prepared for kindergarten. – Commissioner Alice Seagren, Pioneer Press, February 5, 2006, emphasis added
LABELING CHILDREN CAN HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES
“Because children develop and grow along a continuum with great variability, the goal of these studies is to assess children s proficiency within and across these developmental domains and not establish whether or not children are ready for school with the use of a composite ready or not ready score. Young children develop rapidly and at varying rates across the domains, and an early, definitive determination of readiness can have unintended negative consequences” – 2006, Readiness Study Report, MDE, p.7, emphasis added
America is in a time of great economic and social upheaval. Our constitutional rights are being trampled with frightening frequency and government is encroaching into ever increasingly large areas of our lives and those of our children. There is an alarming decline in the understanding by our nation’s youth and young adults of the basic workings of our government, the foundational principles of our republic and the precepts necessary to maintain our liberties purchased and preserved at such a precious cost.
Tragically, the new draft revision of the social studies standards for Minnesota’s public school students will not help to reverse any of these damaging trends. In fact, the draft is a giant step backwards. Even a cursory perusal shows that the politically correct, liberal, leftist elites are having a field day. They are not just revising and tweaking, as the less than ideal legislation passed in 2003 allowed, but this is a wholesale leftist revision that should be opposed with great vigor.
The one good thing about the draft is that it refers to America as a republic instead of a democracy, which the founders explicitly rejected. There are large parts of the draft for high school US and world history that are still “to be developed,” so things may change, but we are not confident given what is available for review. Here are just some of the highlights (or more accurately, lowlights) of the draft:
· The Declaration of Independence that first listed the principles of our republic such as God given unalienable rights and self-evident truth and that served as the cornerstone inspiration for our Constitution, is only mentioned twice and then, not after the fifth grade.
The US Congress is back in session to deal with the federal budget and decide the fate of the Bush tax cuts, both of which the Democrats in control were too afraid to tackle before the election. According to EdWatch’s congressional sources, what will happen with the federal budget is anyone’s guess. There are three main possibilities.
- Continuing Resolution (CR) – This would continue spending at current levels until some specified time in the future, probably leaving the thorny budget issues for the next Congress to solve. Republicans would like that because it would then leave them free to enact the fiscal discipline for which they were elected. Given that the defeated House Democrat caucus would have to relinquish control early and actually vote for fiscal responsibility, this seems unlikely. The federal government is currently being funded by a CR, because the new fiscal year started on October 1st. The current CR is set to expire on December 3rd.
- Passing Each Individual Budget Bills – Given that there are twelve such budget bills that often contain controversial amendments, that these bills are large and complex and comprise trillions of dollars of federal spending, and that Congress will adjourn this session two weeks after Thanksgiving week after not dealing with these bills for eleven months, we also see this possibility as farfetched.
The usual big government, control our children from birth crowd constantly harp at parents and policymakers that fifty percent of Minnesota children come to school not prepared or not fully prepared for kindergarten. They say that only a massive expansion of government money and control will solve this “crisis.”
The Scholar’s Notebook blog reported on a candidate forum in Senate District 43 held on October 18th where early childhood issues were discussed. I attended that forum and heard incumbent Democrat Rep. John Benson dutifully chanted that exact meme that 50% of Minnesota children were not prepared for kindergarten, that it is a crisis, and that the state needs to provide more funding for early childhood programs. Continue reading »
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