Sep 30, 2010
ELW

Preschool Actually Harms Reading Achievement

Education is a very big issue in the state of Minnesota and across the nation this election season, as it should be for comprising 40-50% of many state budgets. Using Minnesota as an example, all three gubernatorial candidates in their budget plans, debates, and speeches are discussing the importance of “investing” in early childhood education. Democrat Mark Dayton and Independence Party Candidate Tom Horner constantly discuss the importance of early childhood, with Horner boldly calling for “cradle to grave” government education. Republican Tom Emmer, to his credit, has been emphasizing the importance of literacy and school choice regarding preschool, especially for poor children to close the “achievement gap.”

However, none of the candidates seem to understand the miserable failure of early childhood education in improving literacy or closing the achievement gap. In fact, they all seem to have been taken in by the usual suspects in the preschool cabal into believing that “kindergarten readiness,” however subjectively defined, is equivalent to improved reading performance. Nothing could be farther from the truth.Reading is the most fundamental of academic skills and if especially poor children are not taught well how to do so, they are doomed to life of failure. By 4th grade, when the effects of preschool should be most apparent, Pre-K actually at best, leaves reading scores unchanged and in the worst case scenario finds them to be lower than the national average. The news is even worse for poor children, making the achievement gap worse Continue reading »

Jun 1, 2010
ELW

Opposition to Federal Curriculum Helps Put Brakes on Race to the Top

As of May 19th, the state of Minnesota has finally and thankfully given up on its second round application for Race to the Top (RTTT). The Pawlenty administration and many Republicans are blaming Democrats and the statewide teachers’ union for opposing reforms in teacher accountability such as alternative licensure, increased evaluations, performance pay, and tenure reform for the inability to proceed with the application.  Less discussed or admitted, but far more important for liberty, sovereignty, and academic excellence was the strong and concerted opposition from the grassroots and freedom-minded legislators to centralization of control and the adoption of national standards, otherwise known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

The CCSSI, though described as a voluntary, state-led initiative, comprises a federal curriculum, because it is required for participation in RTTT and because it appears that it will be required to receive the bulk of federal Title I money in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Continue reading »

Apr 30, 2010
ELW

House Committee Rejects Common Core and Race to the Top

As the House education bill was being crafted and debated, EdWatch is extremely glad to announce that both major Republican gubernatorial candidates (Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Marty Seifert) understand the freedom priorities of sovereignty, local control, and academic excellence. Both have signed on to the bill authored by Rep. Gene Pelowski and Senator David Hann – HF 3677/SF 3181– to prohibit Minnesota’s involvement in Race to the Top.

In an ironic, complicated and mostly party line vote, a package of reforms from Governor Pawlenty that included adoption of the Common Core Standards without public comment that we warned about in our last alert and that was proposed to help strengthen Minnesota’s second round application for Race to the Top grants was rejected on April 28th by the House K-12 Finance Committee.  This vote occurred as the committee put together their final omnibus education finance and policy bill. Continue reading »

Apr 22, 2010
ELW

Horrific Common Core Standards Move Forward

The Common Core Standards have finished the public comment phase and are now undergoing final revisions.  There has been much criticism of them from individuals and groups, both parents and experts, across the country.

The following testimony was prepared for the Minnesota House Education Policy Committee informational meeting on the Common Core Standards Initiative that was held April 7th.  Due to time constraints, not all of Dr. Effrem’s testimony was given.  The audio is available here (Follow link for April 7, 2010 hearing starting at 1:29:45).

Much alarm was raised by all of the testifiers that included two outside experts  intimately involved in the development of Minnesota’s nation leading math standards, Dr. Larry Gray of the University of Minnesota and Ellen Delaney, a veteran math teacher, about the math standards.  Minnesota Department of Education staff raised some concerns about the English standards, but not enough in our view, especially when compared to the written comments of national experts.  No teachers or others involved with the development of the English standards post Minnesota’s disastrous Profile of Learning testified at the hearing. Continue reading »