Jul 16, 2011

Shutdown Deal Education Update

As of Thursday, July 14th, a tentative framework for a budget deal to end the government shutdown imposed by Governor Dayton instead of calling a special session to deal with a temporary funding bill has been reached.  Yet another $1.4 billion of spending was allowed via increased borrowing from schools ($700 million in “shifts” or accounting gimmicks) and another $700 million of borrowing of tobacco bonds in exchange for no increase in taxes.

All day Friday, the 15th, the governor’s commissioners and committee chairmen have been negotiating the details of each budget bill with a theoretical deadline imposed by Dayton of 10 PM on Friday with plans to call a special session on Monday, July 18th.  As of 11 PM on Friday, the Star Tribune was reporting that there were difficulties in those detailed negotiations especially with the state government bill and that work would continue through this weekend.  One of Education Liberty Watch’s sources reported that the education bill was done, but other sources even closer to the legislature had no confirmation for that report, so it is difficult to know what is going on.

During a noon hour Friday interview on Minnesota Public Radio, Governor Dayton had this exchange with the host Gary Eichton about what was in the education bill and what he was insisting on that would not be (starting at 43:25):

GE: “In terms of education policy reforms, Republicans wanted school vouchers. They talked about a bill whereby kids who couldn’t read by the end of third grade they couldn’t move forward. They wanted to do away with integration aid. Will those items be included in a final K-12 bill?”

MD: “No, and the abolishment [sic] of tenure will not be included. What will be included I think is an evaluation for teachers and for principals. I think that is something we can agree upon and some other aspects of the early childhood support which is absent in the legislative proposals and which I’ve insisted upon will be part of it..”

Continue reading »

Jun 30, 2011

Do We Want Liberty or “Efficient Government”?

Unfortunately, not all of the proponents of the nanny state expansion of government control over child care and preschool reside in the liberal media, the big business left or the Democrat party.  Some are in the Republican Party.  One of them, Rep. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) was one of the seven House Republicans out of 67 that voted to keep the Quality Rating System/Early Childhood Voucher bill in the House education finance bill.  He tried to defend that position during an interview with Jack Tomczak on the Late Debate on June 22nd in response to an interview that I did on that show on education on the 20th.  Rep. Petersen continued to use all of the same arguments of the nanny state crowd that I have refuted multiple times in this space, on Education Liberty Watch, in testimony and in media debates – “the program is voluntary,” “it will provide accountability,” etc. Although there is much that needs to be refuted again in what he said and despite the fact that he called himself “limited government conservative,”  this particular exchange will clearly illustrate the rift between true small government, constitutional conservatives and the “compassionate” big government establishment being played out at all levels of the Republican party all the way to the GOP presidential nomination:

Starting at 23:37

Rep. Branden Petersen (BP):  “…and Ed Liberty Watch and some members of our caucus [92% of them] were able to successfully eliminate essentially that provision out of the finance bill. And I think it was well intentioned from a limited government standpoint. You know, even I generally agree with the fact that ideally government shouldn’t be involved in early childhood.

Host Jack Tomczak (JT):  “Sure…but we’re not going to get to the ideal by funding it…

BP: “Right.”

JT: “…by having the state fund pre-K, we’re never going to get to that ideal of the government not being involved.”

BP: “Right”

JT: “Here forever?”

BP: “Well I think I don’t want to give up entirely, but what I would say is that with the federal involvement in Head Start, it’s something outside of our control.”

JT: “Sure”

BP:  And that we’re spending a large amount of money on it. And I think if we are going to do that, as a limited government conservative, liberty-minded conservative, I prefer limited government wherever possible, and where it’s not possible, I prefer an efficient, outcome based, results-oriented government…

Continue reading »

Jun 30, 2011

Preschool is NOT the Panacea Portrayed in Study

Proponents of an ever larger government role in early childhood care and education are using results from a new study of poor, minority children in Chicago from Arthur Reynolds at the University of Minnesota  to bolster their claims that public preschool is helpful for these children and that these benefits last well into adulthood.  Here is a quote from the study abstract:

“Findings demonstrate support for the enduring effects of sustained school-based early education to the end of the third decade of life.”

The media reviews of this study have been absolutely gushing, especially in Minnesota where there is a huge effort to expand early childhood programs and increase government regulation of private childcare and preschool programs. Here is an example:

“And if there is an Exhibit A to a redress, it should start with the recently published findings of University of Minnesota researcher Arthur J. Reynolds and a group of associates…

Described as the longest follow-up ever to an established large-scale early childhood program, the research focused on participants in a publicly funded early childhood development program that began in preschool and provides up to six years of service in the Chicago public schools.”

Statistically Significant, But Not Practically Important Differences:

The full study was reviewed.  The study compared 989 low income minority children who participated in the Chicago Parent Child Centers (CPC) public preschool program for one or two years and up to four years of extra help in grades K-3 in the Chicago public schools to 550 low income minority children, 15% of whom participated in Head Start, with the rest cared for at home and who all participated in all-day kindergarten and received the same sort of help in grades K-3.    There were several differences reported as statistically significant between the group that had preschool (CPC) and the non-preschool group, but as reported by Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press, the overall results for these kids are still “dismal:”

“To be sure, the challenges facing the children in both groups were still insurmountable for many. As adults, the average annual income for those who went to preschool is less than $12,000 and almost half of them had been arrested as adults. As dismal as those outcomes [are], the numbers were still better than for the group that didn’t attend preschool.”

Continue reading »

Jun 15, 2011

Rebuttal to MinnPost

I submitted a rebuttal to MinnPost after a series of attack pieces on June 7th, 9th, and 10th.  An edited version of the piece was posted today (June 15th). Below is the piece that was submitted with brackets and some comments to show what was removed.  Education Liberty Watch is grateful that they posted what they did.

In response to the June 7th , 9th and 10th articles by Beth Hawkins posted on MinnPost regarding early childhood issues, particularly the quality rating system (QRS),  and Education Liberty Watch’s opposition to them, I am flattered that MinnPost believes that our group had such a big influence on the legislature.  However, it is deeply disturbing that a) she thinks that legislators are not able to think for themselves about the merits or lack thereof of a given proposal in order to represent their constituents and b) that it is somehow sinister for individuals or groups to exercise their constitutional rights to bring information to or make their beliefs known to their elected representatives.

[It is also clearly obvious that MinnPost supports these pre-K initiatives in no uncertain terms.   However, the level of journalistic bias that runs through the writing on this topic and the site’s lack of oversight are absolutely breathtaking. – This was changed to “I find the level of journalistic bias that runs through the writing on this topic and the site’s lack of oversight absolutely breathtaking”] The articles make it seem as though any opposition to these initiatives is anti-child, un-American, and has no intellectual basis whatsoever.  [Rather than engage in a meaningful, substantive, respectful debate on these issues as Michael Caputo and MPR put together, MinnPost has resorted to misstatement, half-truth, and smear to try to make assertions. – This was removed.]

This bias reached its peak in the June 9th reprinting of the complete Duane Benson letter to legislators attempting to rebut our statements. His letter did not contain a single link to any evidence bolstering his point of view, the reporter did not even link our article to which Benson responded, nor was there any links to any of the extensive evidence that Education Liberty Watch has provided to legislators and the public all session.  (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems, Myths and Facts About Early Childhood Education & Quality Rating Systems (QRSs), Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs, Quotes and References Regarding the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.  To her credit, she did link one of our articles: Preschool Actually Harms Reading Achievement).

This lack of reporting is also true of my extensive testimony and writing for the legislature and the Congress and international groups regarding home visiting and government mental screening of children, particularly poor and minority children.  Part of that opposition to mental screening was fueled and bolstered by the tragic story of Aliah Gleason, a 13 year old African American girl forcibly institutionalized and drugged with powerful, dangerous antipsychotics at the behest of Texas school and child protection authorities after a school based mental screening as reported in Mother Jones magazine, [hardly a bastion of conservative writing. – Removed]

Continue reading »