Jul 25, 2011

2011 Session Recap

The 2011 legislative session is finally over and a new education budget has been signed into law by Governor Dayton.  Here is a brief summary and recap from Education Liberty Watch’s perspective:

THE GOOD: Of course, for families’ sakes, it is very good news that there will be no tax increases.  But the best news from Education Liberty Watch’s point of view is that despite tremendous pressure from the governor and the liberal big business community even until late in the evening during the special session, your actions and those of conservative legislators were able to keep the nanny state quality rating system(QRS) out of the final education bill.  You and the legislative leadership of Koch and Zellers, the education committee chairs Olson, Erickson, and Garofalo, as well as individual conservative legislators like Mary Franson, Steve Drazkowski, Mark Buesgens, Glen Gruenhagen, Dave Thompson, Roger Chamberlain, Pam Wolf, and Gretchen Hoffman, among others, all deserve a huge THANK YOU.  Besides saving young children from government approved indoctrinating preschool curriculum and increased regulation on private childcare and preschool, Minnesota has been spared loss of state sovereignty due to federalization of preschool by remaining ineligible for Race to the Top (RTTT).  RTTT would give winning states $50-100 million dollars of one time money from our bankrupt federal government to and, besides the QRS, would have required development of longitudinal data tracking of every child from birth, indoctrination via standards (already under way thanks to the Pawlenty administration) and kindergarten readiness tests (also started over the last eight years).  More details on baby RTTT will be forthcoming, but suffice it to say that it is VERY good that Minnesota will not be eligible for this.

Other good provisions that survived in the final bill are:

  • The strong emphasis on reading especially from kindergarten through third grade with rewards for districts that show improvement in reading.  Senator Gen Olson and Rep. Pam Myrha deserve great congratulations for this.
  • Early graduation scholarships and early graduation for military service scholarships
  • Repeal of mandate that districts spend a certain amount on psychologists and social workers allowing them to decide they want to spend on their own support personnel for themselves and removing an over emphasis on mental health in the schools
  • Reduced mandates on home schooled students
  • Repeal of the January 15th deadline and penalty requiring school districts and teachers’ unions to have reached their collective bargaining agreement


In addition, although it is regrettable that the opportunity scholarship bill that would have provided a way for poor students to escape failing public schools did not survive, Education Liberty Watch is very relieved that there is now an opportunity to redraft the bill so as not to impose the mandate of requiring the public school tests and therefore imposing the national standards on the private schools and students receiving the scholarships.

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Jul 16, 2011

Media Appearances

Rebuttal to MinnPost Attacks – Your and the Republicans’ strong stand against more nanny state control of our youngest children and private childcare providers prompted MinnPost to do a series of attack pieces against Dr. Effrem and Education Liberty Watch in June. Find links to the articles and our rebuttal here.
Dr. Effrem discusses education policy including early childhood on the Late Debate with Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse on June 20th available here .
Dr. Effrem also discusses early childhood on the Sue Jeffers show on June 25th

Dr. Effrem rebuts Rep. Branden Petersen’s more moderate (liberal) views on early childhood in a post on True North titled Do We Want Liberty  or “”Efficient Government” (also archived in EdLibertyWatch.org here).

Jul 16, 2011

Shutdown Deal Education Update

As of Thursday, July 14th, a tentative framework for a budget deal to end the government shutdown imposed by Governor Dayton instead of calling a special session to deal with a temporary funding bill has been reached.  Yet another $1.4 billion of spending was allowed via increased borrowing from schools ($700 million in “shifts” or accounting gimmicks) and another $700 million of borrowing of tobacco bonds in exchange for no increase in taxes.

All day Friday, the 15th, the governor’s commissioners and committee chairmen have been negotiating the details of each budget bill with a theoretical deadline imposed by Dayton of 10 PM on Friday with plans to call a special session on Monday, July 18th.  As of 11 PM on Friday, the Star Tribune was reporting that there were difficulties in those detailed negotiations especially with the state government bill and that work would continue through this weekend.  One of Education Liberty Watch’s sources reported that the education bill was done, but other sources even closer to the legislature had no confirmation for that report, so it is difficult to know what is going on.

During a noon hour Friday interview on Minnesota Public Radio, Governor Dayton had this exchange with the host Gary Eichton about what was in the education bill and what he was insisting on that would not be (starting at 43:25):

GE: “In terms of education policy reforms, Republicans wanted school vouchers. They talked about a bill whereby kids who couldn’t read by the end of third grade they couldn’t move forward. They wanted to do away with integration aid. Will those items be included in a final K-12 bill?”

MD: “No, and the abolishment [sic] of tenure will not be included. What will be included I think is an evaluation for teachers and for principals. I think that is something we can agree upon and some other aspects of the early childhood support which is absent in the legislative proposals and which I’ve insisted upon will be part of it..”

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Jun 30, 2011

Do We Want Liberty or “Efficient Government”?

Unfortunately, not all of the proponents of the nanny state expansion of government control over child care and preschool reside in the liberal media, the big business left or the Democrat party.  Some are in the Republican Party.  One of them, Rep. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) was one of the seven House Republicans out of 67 that voted to keep the Quality Rating System/Early Childhood Voucher bill in the House education finance bill.  He tried to defend that position during an interview with Jack Tomczak on the Late Debate on June 22nd in response to an interview that I did on that show on education on the 20th.  Rep. Petersen continued to use all of the same arguments of the nanny state crowd that I have refuted multiple times in this space, on Education Liberty Watch, in testimony and in media debates – “the program is voluntary,” “it will provide accountability,” etc. Although there is much that needs to be refuted again in what he said and despite the fact that he called himself “limited government conservative,”  this particular exchange will clearly illustrate the rift between true small government, constitutional conservatives and the “compassionate” big government establishment being played out at all levels of the Republican party all the way to the GOP presidential nomination:

Starting at 23:37

Rep. Branden Petersen (BP):  “…and Ed Liberty Watch and some members of our caucus [92% of them] were able to successfully eliminate essentially that provision out of the finance bill. And I think it was well intentioned from a limited government standpoint. You know, even I generally agree with the fact that ideally government shouldn’t be involved in early childhood.

Host Jack Tomczak (JT):  “Sure…but we’re not going to get to the ideal by funding it…

BP: “Right.”

JT: “…by having the state fund pre-K, we’re never going to get to that ideal of the government not being involved.”

BP: “Right”

JT: “Here forever?”

BP: “Well I think I don’t want to give up entirely, but what I would say is that with the federal involvement in Head Start, it’s something outside of our control.”

JT: “Sure”

BP:  And that we’re spending a large amount of money on it. And I think if we are going to do that, as a limited government conservative, liberty-minded conservative, I prefer limited government wherever possible, and where it’s not possible, I prefer an efficient, outcome based, results-oriented government…

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