Oct 26, 2010
ELW

Kindergarten Readiness: A Useless and Dangerous Concept

The usual big government, control our children from birth crowd constantly harp at parents and policymakers that fifty percent of Minnesota children come to school not prepared or not fully prepared for kindergarten.  They say that only a massive expansion of government money and control will solve this “crisis.”

The Scholar’s Notebook blog reported on a candidate forum in Senate District 43 held on October 18th where early childhood issues were discussed.  I attended that forum and heard incumbent Democrat Rep. John Benson dutifully chanted that exact meme that 50% of Minnesota children were not prepared for kindergarten, that it is a crisis, and that the state needs to provide more funding for early childhood programs. Continue reading »

Oct 9, 2010
ELW

Are the Winds of Educational Freedom Blowing Towards Congress?

With the rise of TEA party movement and general voter anger at the overspending and the strangling control the federal government into more and more aspects of our lives, it was quite encouraging to read a lengthy analysis on EdWeek.org of where federal education policy is headed that included an interview of Congressman John Kline (R-MN).

Rep. Kline is currently the ranking Republican on the US House Education and Workforce Committee. If the currently predicted Republican landslide in the US House occurs in the November midterm election, then he could well be chairman of that all-important committee and will be very influential in federal education policy. This would include how No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be reauthorized and what will happen with the Race to the Top initiative started by the Obama administration after passage of the stimulus bill. Here are some excerpts from his remarks. Continue reading »

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 »