Mar 26, 2011

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

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)
Mar 24, 2011

School Choice Testimony

3/14/11 – Dr Effrem testified before the MN House Education Finance Committee in support of the idea of school choice for K-12, but against the mandates placed on the private school in the MN House Education Finance Committee (HF 273 – Woodard) (Audio is available here by following the link for the March 14th hearing starting at 2:02:23)

3/17/11 – Dr. Effrem testified in favor of SF 388 (Nienow), because, because unlike its House counterpart (HF 273 above) it offers school choice without imposing the public school tests and standards and other mandates on the private schools.  (Audio is available here by following the link for the March 17th Education Committee hearing starting at 50:48)




Mar 24, 2011

Standards Testimony

  • 3/16/11 – Dr. Effrem testified before the Senate Education Committee in strong support of SF 622 to prohibit adoption of the common core national standards without legislative approval.  Audio is available here by following the link for the March 16th education hearing here starting at 39:50..