Apr 3, 2011
ELW

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 »

Mar 28, 2011
ELW

Urgent Update on Minnesota Education Spending Bills

SUMMARY:

Although there are some good reforms in the House education finance bill (HF 934 – see below for details), because of the increased overall education spending, the expansion of early childhood spending and bad policy, and the mandates on the private schools in the school choice bill, Education Liberty Watch opposes HF 934, which will heard on the House floor TOMORROW (3/29/11). It is quite likely to be vetoed anyway and it would be very bad if some of these provisions would become the House position going into further negotiations.  We hope that all of the Republicans will join conservatives, both new and already there, in voting against this bill and instead, produce a bill that cuts real spending and decreases the size and scope of government involvement in education and families as representatives were elected to do.

If you wish to contact your representatives to make your views on this issue known, please call or email as follows:

House Speaker Kurt Zellers –

651-296-5502  rep.kurt.zellers@house.mn

House Majority Leader Matt Dean –

651-296-3018  rep.matt.dean@house.mn

To Contact Your Individual House member by phone or email, click:

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/housemembers.asp

The Senate education bill (SF 1030), although still spending way too much is far preferable from a policy perspective.  We will update you when we have information on when it will reach the Senate floor.

Introduction

The Minnesota House and Senate education committees passed their large education spending bills this last week, also called omnibus bills.  Although there are some good efforts at reform in both bills (see below), each spends too much, both overall, and especially on early childhood. Overall education spending increases by approximately one billion dollars from last biennium, and there are no cuts to anything over current spending in early childhood. This is especially concerning given the fiscal crisis that Minnesota is facing, that education consumes 40% of the Minnesota budget, that many of these programs are ineffective and sometimes harmful,  and that achievement is so stagnant or declining, especially for poor and minority children. This stagnation is despite massive increases in spending over the last 30 years at both the state and federal levels.  Yet, Dr. Karen Effrem was the only one to her knowledge of the dozens of people who testified about these bills that asked for cuts of any kind.

Even worse, the House increases early childhood spending by incentivizing poor families to put their children in preschool instead of educating them at home with early childhood scholarships and takes the ineffective and controversial Parent Aware quality rating system (QRS) statewide.  (Testimonies may be accessed here).

[Written testimony prepared for the MN House Education Finance Committee’s consideration of the omnibus education finance bill is available here (HF 934).   Audio of what was actually presented is available here by following the link for the March 21st hearing beginning at 6:37:35] Continue reading »

Mar 26, 2011
ELW

Testimony on the MN House Education Spending Bill

This is the written testimony prepared for the MN House Education Finance Committee’s consideration of the omnibus education finance bill (HF 934 – Audio of what was actually presented is available here by following the link for the March 21st hearing beginning at 6:37:35).

Good evening Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.  My name is Karen Effrem, and I am here on behalf of Education Liberty Watch.

We want to thank and commend you for your efforts to do a very difficult job given the fiscal crisis this state and our nation are facing.  There are some good reforms in here.  Those include Rep. Bills’  early graduation scholarship bill and Rep. Erickson’s mandate relief bill, particularly the mandate on school psychologists and social workers as well as the requirement for legislative approval of the new standards. Given what came out with the draft social studies standards, that is very important. We also appreciate the language to remove the negotiation deadline, and the teacher evaluation, and given that salaries and benefits are the biggest cost drivers of public education, we also appreciate the other reforms that you are considering in that direction.  We also appreciate the intent of Rep. Woodard’s bill to help children trapped in under performing schools.  Finally, we appreciate that there is no new funding for all-day kindergarten when the research that I have seen shows no improvement in the achievement gap and longer term problems with math and behavioral issues in the fifth grade in students that had all day kindergarten versus those that had the traditional half-day program.

Unfortunately, we need to mention several areas of grave concern:

1.       The overall levels of spending in this bill are way too high.  According to data presented at a congressional hearing, the federal taxpayers have spent 2 trillion dollars over the last 30 years with a huge increase in spending over the last 10 or so that has yielded flat or declining achievement scores and no real change in the achievement gap.  State spending has skyrocketed as well.  The private economy has taken huge losses in salaries and benefits as well as home and portfolio values.  Individuals and businesses have had to make very significant cuts in their own budgets.  There is no reason that government, including K-12 education that encompasses 40% of the budget, should not have to do the same, especially given that achievement results are so stagnant to poor. There was a Gallup poll just released today showing that spending and the economy is the number one issue in the minds of voters. Continue reading »

Mar 24, 2011
ELW

Media Appearances

  • Sue Jeffers often discusses important education issues.  View a list of podcasts
  • 2/5/11 Dr. Effrem calls into Sue Jeffers show to talk about early childhood in Gov. Dayton’s education plan (here at 13:15)
  • 2/19/11 Dr. Effrem is interviewed regarding MN Gov. Dayton’s education budget ( here at  26:00)
  • 2/19/11 Steel on Steel Radio – Dr. Effrem discusses Race to the Top (a 20 minute sample of the whole show is available here by following the link for the February 19th show.  Otherwise a subscription is required.)
  • 3/5/11 Sue Jeffers interviews Dr. Effrem regarding school choice legislation that will place burdensome mandates on private schools and childcare businesses as well as the terrible draft social studies standards revisions. (Here at 24:00)
  • 3/5/11 – Mitch Berg of the Northern Alliance Radio Network on AM 1280 the Patriot interviews Dr. Effrem on well-intentioned, but potentially dangerous school choice legislation and the social studies standards. (Here at 25:08).
  • 3/19/11 Sue interviews Dr. Effrem on the currents state of Minnesota education legislation at the top of the hour (here)
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