Aug 9, 2011

Hawkins & MinnPost Join MELF’s Disdain for Constitution

As we have previously reported, the mainstream media and left-leaning websites (pardon the redundancy) have reported (Jeremy Olson) or even cheered (Gail Rosenblum and MPR) the efforts of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) to stomp on the Minnesota Constitution and do an end run around the legislature by unilaterally implementing the Parent Aware quality rating system (QRS) that was clearly and formally rejected by 92-100% of the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

However, besides MELF itself, nowhere have we witnessed more sneering disdain for the decision of the people’s elected representatives and the rule of law than by Beth Hawkins of MinnPost in her August 2nd column.  She is almost swooning with admiration for MELF executive director Duane Benson’s recommendation for Governor Dayton to ignore the legislature and implement Parent Aware statewide via administrative dictate:

In the wee hours of the morning after the special session, Duane Benson, the velvet-gloved force who directs MELF, hatched a modest proposal for seeing that a quality-ratings system does get implemented this year before the business-led nonprofit quietly closes its doors. Trust a onetime GOP Senate minority leader to figure out how to end-run the Legislature.

Hawkins is delivering this gushing praise of this Arne Carlson style “Republican” that compromised, collaborated, and caved with one of the Senate’s chief leftists, the now thankfully retiring Linda Berglin, to impose the infamous 2% sick tax on all health care visits in the state.  In addition, even though MELF was given authority and money back in 2005 to make recommendations on statewide childcare policy, they refused the money so that they would not have to comply with the state’s open meeting laws and involve the public and policymakers in the deliberation of their schemes. Continue reading »

Jul 31, 2011

Great Thompson and Garofalo Statements on MELF’s Improper Actions

Senator Dave Thompson, Assistant Majority Leader and member of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Pat Garofalo, Chairman of the House Education Finance Committee have responded forcefully and correctly to the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation’s (MELF) efforts to pressure Governor Dayton to unilaterally and unconstitutionally implement the Parent Aware quality rating system statewide as we warned you on  July 29th.

Senator Thompson describes the actions of  MELF and its executive director Duane Benson as improper in no uncertain terms.   Here is the senator’s excellent statement obtained by Education Liberty Watch:

Continue reading »

Jul 29, 2011

URGENT Alert!!! Stop MELF’s Legislative End Around!!

Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Unfortunately, despite the desire to recuperate from the long and contentious legislative session, that vigilance is still needed.  The big government nanny state special interests refuse to accept that the  proponents bureaucratic quality rating system(QRS), that according to their own data, had only miniscule support among parents, providers and legislators.  Yet, like the monster in a bad horror movie, this idea will not die.

According to columns in the Saint Cloud Times and the Star Tribune published in the last 36 hours, the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), despite the fact that their legislative mandate has now expired, has been pushing for Governor Dayton to ignore the clear will of the legislature.and unilaterally implement the Parent Aware QRS as a statewide program.

Here is the key quote from the St. Cloud Times column of former MN state Duane Benson, executive director of MELF and former executive director of the big government leaning Minnesota Business Partnership:

“”The governor has the authority to bring Parent Aware statewide, and we believe he is committed to ensuring public funding goes to providers that deliver a high rate of return for taxpayers. Therefore, we have called on Dayton to take administrative action to make the voluntary Parent Aware Ratings a statewide option.” (Emphasis added).

Continue reading »

Jul 25, 2011

2011 Session Recap

The 2011 legislative session is finally over and a new education budget has been signed into law by Governor Dayton.  Here is a brief summary and recap from Education Liberty Watch’s perspective:

THE GOOD: Of course, for families’ sakes, it is very good news that there will be no tax increases.  But the best news from Education Liberty Watch’s point of view is that despite tremendous pressure from the governor and the liberal big business community even until late in the evening during the special session, your actions and those of conservative legislators were able to keep the nanny state quality rating system(QRS) out of the final education bill.  You and the legislative leadership of Koch and Zellers, the education committee chairs Olson, Erickson, and Garofalo, as well as individual conservative legislators like Mary Franson, Steve Drazkowski, Mark Buesgens, Glen Gruenhagen, Dave Thompson, Roger Chamberlain, Pam Wolf, and Gretchen Hoffman, among others, all deserve a huge THANK YOU.  Besides saving young children from government approved indoctrinating preschool curriculum and increased regulation on private childcare and preschool, Minnesota has been spared loss of state sovereignty due to federalization of preschool by remaining ineligible for Race to the Top (RTTT).  RTTT would give winning states $50-100 million dollars of one time money from our bankrupt federal government to and, besides the QRS, would have required development of longitudinal data tracking of every child from birth, indoctrination via standards (already under way thanks to the Pawlenty administration) and kindergarten readiness tests (also started over the last eight years).  More details on baby RTTT will be forthcoming, but suffice it to say that it is VERY good that Minnesota will not be eligible for this.

Other good provisions that survived in the final bill are:

  • The strong emphasis on reading especially from kindergarten through third grade with rewards for districts that show improvement in reading.  Senator Gen Olson and Rep. Pam Myrha deserve great congratulations for this.
  • Early graduation scholarships and early graduation for military service scholarships
  • Repeal of mandate that districts spend a certain amount on psychologists and social workers allowing them to decide they want to spend on their own support personnel for themselves and removing an over emphasis on mental health in the schools
  • Reduced mandates on home schooled students
  • Repeal of the January 15th deadline and penalty requiring school districts and teachers’ unions to have reached their collective bargaining agreement


In addition, although it is regrettable that the opportunity scholarship bill that would have provided a way for poor students to escape failing public schools did not survive, Education Liberty Watch is very relieved that there is now an opportunity to redraft the bill so as not to impose the mandate of requiring the public school tests and therefore imposing the national standards on the private schools and students receiving the scholarships.

Continue reading »