Mar 8, 2010
ELW

Senate Committee Adopts Core Standards

A valiant bipartisan effort to remove the Common Core Standards language from the Senate omnibus education policy bill was narrowly defeated on the evening of May 4th.  This language was the same that was defeated and that we warned you about in the House bill last week. It would adopt the yet to be completed national standards by expedited rulemaking authority, meaning no public hearing, all to gain 20 points in the unconstitutional, sovereignty-robbing Race to the Top program.  These national standards, especially because they are likely to become the basis for federal funding for No Child Left Behind, and as confirmed by many respected groups, such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Heartland Institute, will become a de facto federal government run curriculum.

Senator David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) offered the amendment in committee that would have taken out that odious standards language.  It was eloquently supported by Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) and Senator Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista). Continue reading »

Feb 20, 2010
ELW

DFL Bills Promote Mental Health Curricula, Continue Child Care Takeover and Micromanage High School Counseling

Continuing the big government trend to spend money that neither the state nor federal governments have for ideas that are not only not at all needed, but are actually intrusive and harmful, a trio of bills will be heard in House education committees this week:

1. HF 664 (Welti)/ SF 1531 (Torres Ray) heard in the House Education Policy Committee on 2/17 at 8:30 AM – This bill as introduced required the commissioner of education to establish a model mental health curriculum for grades 7-12.  The proposed substitute amendment instead encourages districts to develop these curricula and demands that the Minnesota Department of Education provide support based on the national health education standards and a bunch of Minnesota developed benchmarks that are not even easily available for public review.

This is a bad idea for numerous reasons.  First, national and international groups like the World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General, and authors of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual all admit that the definitions of both mental health and mental illness, especially in children and adolescents, is difficult to uniformly describe and is based on ever-changing societal and cultural norms.  Secondly, this is further psychologization of curriculum open to political indoctrination and labeling.  Thirdly, it is a diversion from academic curricula when math and reading scores are stagnant and there are large achievement gaps between poor students often from single parent families and middle class students.  Finally, neither cash-strapped districts nor the state department that is subject to further budget cuts from the governor’s proposed budget balancing plan can afford this. Continue reading »

Feb 5, 2010
ELW

Race To The Top: Federal Control of Education On Steroids

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Origins and Implication of Race to the Top

Without the slightest bit of legislative discussion in either chamber, the Obama administration quietly slipped $4.35 billion of education funding into the stimulus (“porkulus”) bill passed last year for a program called Race to the Top (RTTT).

With the nearly one trillion dollars spent for the stimulus as well as the trillions spent or proposed for the federal budget, health care, and cap and trade legislation one might reasonably wonder why a few billion dollars for more federal education spending is any big deal.  The answer is that federal government is using this program to bribe states to accept even more federal control of education, a constitutionally and traditionally state function.  This dangerous trend of more federal control of education was greatly accelerated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. However because of the intense opposition engendered by NCLB from all points on the political spectrum and the difficulty that the Obama administration has run into trying to implement its expansive and statist domestic agenda, RTTT is accomplishing more of that same federal control without having to go through the messy process of reauthorizing the controversial NCLB.

Components of Race to the Top

Race to the Top has several components, but there are several that are extremely dangerous for state sovereignty in education, parental rights to control the raising and education of our children, and privacy, respectively: Continue reading »

Jan 17, 2010
ELW

Can Florida’s Legislature Be Serious About State Sovereignty While Accepting “Race to the Top” Federal Education Funds? by: Andrew Nappi

The federal Department of Education like so many federal agencies, has no basis to exist. One cannot find justification for its existence in the constitution. One wonders then, why so many states with healthy and robust tenth amendment and sovereignty movements are rushing to get their share of “stimulus” education money offered  by the Obama administration and known as “Race to the Top.”

My home country of Florida is among these states exhibiting behavior that appears to be contradictory.  One would suppose state sovereignty would include “in state” control of curriculums. State sovereignty one would think, if supported by the legislature, would include a requirement that  schools within the state  teach this aspect of liberty as soon as the appropriate level of understanding is reached.

If what we know of Race to the Top curriculums is implemented, the states for all their bluster about their right to be free of intrusive and unlawful federal law, will have in fact handed over to supporters of an all encompassing federal and global government their most precious resource, their children. According to the St. Petersburg Times, “…Strong opposition from teachers unions could be enough to kill Florida’s chances of securing up to $700 million in federal school reform money, the state’s top education official said Wednesday…..Race to the Top is highly competitive. But Florida is widely considered a leading contender because its education policies are closely in synch with the Obama administration’s. The state’s plans for the money, crafted over months by the Florida Department of Education, are dramatic. They would accelerate changes on a suite of sensitive issues, including how teachers are trained, evaluated and paid….” Continue reading »