May 7, 2011
ELW

Important Education Conference Committee Information

The Education Conference Committee has been meeting to discuss the financial and policy provisions of the two versions of the large (omnibus) education finance bill (HF 934/SF 1030) to see where there are differences and similarities.  There have been no real decisions made so far, only discussions regarding what is in each bill, literacy programs, and teacher evaluations.

The reasons for the leisurely pace on the conference committee meetings are both because of differences between the House and the Senate and because the governor is not actively involved in negotiations regarding either the budget or policy.  The governor needs to stop standing on the sidelines and actively engage in the process.  Contact information for the conferees and the governor are as follows:

SENATE:

Senator Gen Olson (Chairwoman) 651-296-1282 sen.gen.olson@senate.mn

Senator Carla Nelson 651-296-4848 sen.carla.nelson@senate.mn

Senator Benjamin Kruse 651-296-4154 sen.benjamin.kruse@senate.mn

Senator Dave Thompson 651-296-5252 sen.dave.thompson@senate.mn

Senator Pam Wolfe   651-296-2556 sen.pam.wolf@senate.mn

HOUSE:

Representative Pat Garofalo (Chairman) 651-296-1069 rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn

Representative Connie Doepke   651-296-4315 rep.connie.doepke@house.mn

Representative Sondra Erickson 651-296-6746 rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn

Representative Dan Fabian 651-296-9635 rep.dan.fabian@house.mn

Representative Tim Kelly 651-296-8635 rep.tim.kelly@house.mn

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON:  651-201-3400 or http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/

Please consider asking these legislators and the governor to:

1)  Do not spend anything new on education and if possible cut the budget. When every other area of life in Minnesota inside and outside of government has to deal with cuts there is no reason to be adding one BILLION more to the education budget.  Especially in light of the facts that achievement is stagnant and there will have to be more negotiation on other areas of the budget and with the governor.

2) Support the Senate position on early childhood spending. Ask them to not spend another $10 million on early childhood.  Even the scholarships for poor children give parents incentive to have someone else raise and educate their children when these programs at best do not work and at worst cause academic and emotional harm. If they insist on doing this spending for scholarships, at least have them take the funds from already existing, but ineffective programs like Head Start or ECFE.

3) Beware the Senate Language on early childhood quality rating systems (QRS). There is language in the Senate bill that requires new early childhood spending to be research based and implemented based on the quality rating system framework already in statute, which would be a back door way of taking this bureaucratic, small business hampering QRS statewide.  This language should be modified to just say research based programs or removed altogether.

4)  Preserve the autonomy of private schools. Either the mandates in the House voucher provision should be removed or the voucher language should be taken out of the bill altogether and the tuition tax credits in the Senate tax bill should move forward.

5) Not implement the new social studies standards or the common core national standards.  The social studies standards are revisionist, anti-American, and anti-capitalist. The national standards are an unconstitutional, one-size-fits all means of eventual federal control of curriculum.  There is language that prevents implementation of both that should be supported.

May 6, 2011
ELW

Comments on US History Standards from an Attorney and Teacher of the Constitution

As promised in our last alert, here are the comments on the high school US History Standards by Education Liberty Watch Board member Marjorie Holsten, an attorney and teacher of the US Constitution for home schooled students.  The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON MAY 8TH.

INTRODUCTION:

As an Attorney who has taught Constitutional Law to homeschooled high students at local homeschool co-operatives for a number of years, I was anxious to review the content of Minnesota’s new proposed Social Studies Standards for senior high students.  I hoped to see studies of the founding documents of our nation, including discussions of how the checks and balances our founding fathers drafted were intended to limit the power of government to allow people to fully enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without governmental interference.  I knew I would be disappointed by the content, but was unprepared to have my breath taken away by the amount of historical revisionism, liberal bias, and politically correct indoctrination.  I cannot help but think of the statement of Hans Schemm from the Nazi Teacher’s League who said, “Those who have the youth on their side control the future.'”

The Social Studies Standards have four sections:  U.S. History, World History, Geography, and Economics.  The U.S. History Section is by far the worst and is the only topic covered in this article.

GENERAL COMMENTS:

The word “analyze” appears 26 times in the U.S. History Standards, and the word “evaluate” appears four times.  The acts of “analyzing” and “evaluating” require students not only to learn and understand material, but also to make judgments.  When students are given only a limited amount of information, and what they are given is one-sided, any judgment they make will be skewed.  It is inappropriate to require students to do so much analyzing and evaluating under these circumstances.  In contrast, the World History section uses the word “analyze” only 7 times, and uses the word “describe” 36 times. (Obviously there were two different authors, with the author of the U.S. History being far to the left of the author of the World History Section.)

EXPLORATION:

The first section on U.S. History is appropriately titled, “U.S. History – Beginning to 1620.”  1620 was a landmark year in our nation’s history, as that was when Pilgrims in search of religious freedom landed at Plymouth Rock.   Stunningly, the standards make no mention of the Pilgrims.  Instead, attention is focused on people “forced to relocate to the colonies.”  (§9.1.4.2.3)  Students are asked to describe the indigenous peoples before European colonization (§9.1.3.1.1), and then “analyze the consequences of early interactions between Europeans and indigenous nations.”  (§9.1.4.1.1)  This is followed by a requirement that students analyze the impacts of colonial government on “enslaved populations.”  (§9.1.4.2.1)  Students then study “the exploitation of enslaved people” (§ 9.1.4.3.1), “the development of non-free labor systems,” and “the experiences of enslaved peoples.”  (§9.1.4.3.2).  It gets worse.

Continue reading »

May 6, 2011
ELW

Please Comment!! Social Studies Standards Continue Disastrous Course in Final Draft!

The third draft of the social studies standards is now available for a final public comment period.  Comments may be submitted here until May 8th.

Although some good change has come out of the social studies standards process which is now in its final phases, thanks to your good efforts and comments, sadly, many of the same problems plus some others we have found are present since our last report. A more detailed report on the U.S. History strand is coming soon from an attorney who teaches the Constitution.  Below are some highlights and lowlights.

Some Good News:

1)      The Declaration of Independence is now mentioned and discussed at the high school level:

“Analyze the impact of early documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on the development of the government of the United States.”

2)      One Declaration principle of “popular sovereignty,” also called “consent of the governed” is specifically mentioned.

3)      Property rights are mentioned in the context of the failure to secure them being an economic problem.

4)      The Second Amendment is mentioned, which is better than the federally subsidized civics textbook. We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution that fails to mention the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments at all.

5)      Capitalism is now mentioned in a neutral context instead of a negative one in economics and the world history strands:

“Compare and contrast the characteristics of traditional, command (planned), market-based (capitalistic), and mixed economic systems.”
“Explain the ideas of capitalism, communism, and socialism and analyze the impact of these beliefs on politics, industry, and labor relations in later 19th-century Europe.”

6)      The United States is still referred to as a republic in the standards and benchmarks:

“The U.S. republic is based on specific principles and beliefs.” (Standard)

Many Grave Causes of Concern – Here is a far from comprehensive list: Continue reading »

Apr 18, 2011
ELW

Media and Presentation Alert

MPR Invites Dr. Effrem to Debate Early Childhood Quality Rating Systems Online Starting 4/18

After your great work and support to get rid of the ineffective, bureaucratic quality rating system (QRS) in the House education spending bill, the media, particularly the more liberal media took notice.  Education Liberty Watch was mentioned three times in the ensuing days.  Two of those mentions took place on very liberal websites, Growth and Justice and MinnPost, where there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth about the House’s very wise decision to get rid of that bad program. Dr. Effrem published a rebuttal to those stories/editorials here. The other mention occurred a couple of days ago on Politics in Minnesota as part of their report on the clash within the GOP between the big government interests of big business and the small government interests of the conservative grassroots.  (More about this will be written soon)

All of this aroused the interest of Mr. Michael Caputo, moderator of Minnesota Public Radio’s online discussion and debate forum Insight Now.  He has invited Dr. Effrem and Todd Otis of Ready4K, a liberal pro-government involvement in preschool proponent to debate the merits or lack thereof of quality rating systems.  The debate will begin here today (4/18) with opening statements and will conclude on the 21st.  Mr. Caputo said that comment would be welcome, but that people must register here.  Please do join the debate!

Dr. Effrem to Speak At HD 50B Event at Moe’s in Mounds View on 4/25 at 7:00 PM

Many thanks go the House District 50B Republicans for inviting Dr. Effrem to speak on education issues in St. Paul and Washington at their event on April 25th at 7 PM at Moe’s in Mounds View.  Details and directions are available here.  Please join Dr. Effrem and the House district 50 B Republicans for a lively discussion!

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