Aug 11, 2011

Education Liberty Watch Statement on Questionable Decision to Take QRS Statewide

“We are deeply disappointed that Governor Dayton has joined with liberal allies unwilling to accept legislative defeat.  It is deeply disturbing that after a stinging legislative rebuke, this administration would resort to this sort of unjustified expenditure of public funds to qualify for one-time federal money from a basically bankrupt federal government that has had its credit rating downgraded for the first time in nearly 100 years.  Given the federal government’s precarious fiscal situation, the availability of these funds is extremely doubtful.

We also find it sadly  ironic that proponents of this bad idea have decried the use of one-time education shift and tobacco bonds to balance the state budget, but are perfectly happy to try to sidestep the legislature in order to gain the one time federal Race to the Top funds and impose their big-government schemes on the private childcare businesses and young children.  This program will subject Minnesota to increased federal control and more unfunded mandates that have engendered much bipartisan opposition with other federal programs like No Child Left Behind.  It is also ironic that legislators that opposed Race tot he Top for K-12 are now fine with federal government control of preschool.

We strongly question this idea of established statutory authority to make this move.  If there was proper authority to do this, then why did nanny state proponents spend an entire session trying to implement this flawed, expensive and bureaucratic system?

The public and policy makers must be aware of the following disturbing facts regarding quality rating systems and preschool in general:

  • Only 14% of eligible providers in the pilot areas volunteered to be rated with home providers being extremely wary of the many bureaucratic hurdles imposed on them by this system
  • Only 25% of parents with children in rated programs even knew about Parent Aware, meaning that at least 75% of parents in the program are not using the system to make their childcare decisions
  • Two thirds of the programs received an automatic free pass of a four star rating just because they are large centers or public programs, like Head Start, while small private programs are subjected to the full rating process, described as arbitrary by some providers.
  • The evaluators of Parent Aware said, “The design does not permit us to determine if Parent Aware causes outcomes for programs, parents, or children. “
  • It has taken $20 million of private funds and five years to get these poor results in four pilot areas, so it would likely cost many times more than that in public dollars and certainly much more than the projected $2 million of public funds to take Parent Aware statewide.  This does not even include the cost to maintain this government heavy system.
  • Poor children that participate in early childhood programs often either retain no academic benefit or a decline in test scores, as well as emotional and behavioral problems, in the elementary school years.

Education Liberty Watch will continue to work with the citizens of Minnesota and their elected representatives against this expansion of government control and regulation of private childcare and preschool programs, imposition of a government preschool curriculum on our state’s youngest children, and out of control state and federal spending. ”


Karen R. Effrem, MD


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 »