1998 - 2001: EdWatch in Action
By January, 2001, David Thompson was hired as Executive Director of MREdCo. He providedongoing research, analysis and testimony during the Minnesota legislative session,coordinating the efforts of several of MREdCo's top researchers and writers. MREdCo wasable to provide timely information on the expansion efforts of the new education system,primarily Baby Ed, universal mental health screening in schools and the WorkforceDevelopment system.
MREdCo focused its 2001 Congressional action on research and analysis of thePresident's No Child Left Behind proposal. Updates and clear information wereregularly provided nationwide. Plans were laid for a September MREdCo national conference.
In 2000, the legislation Minnesota passed to provide some flexibility to the system wasquickly overruled by federal threats to withdraw federal education money from districtsthat did not fully comply with their requirements. For years, federal and state lawmakershad assured critics that Minnesota's controversial restructuring of education was aMinnesota product alone, with no mandate from the federal government. It had now beendemonstrated that federal law was the driving force for the destructive education systemin Minnesota.
The system of centralized planning was rapidly expanding in many directions. Thefederal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), passed in 1998, began its implementation in 2000.Under the WIA, states now were required to submit plans to the federal Department of Laborto restructure workforce training to create a centralized federal system of WorkforceDevelopment. The WIA was an expansion and continuation of School-to-Work. School-to-Workwas rapidly expanding into elementary and secondary schools. Service Learning became arequirement for graduation and 8th graders began going into career pathways that woulddetermine their futures. Also, "Baby Ed" proposals to bring all children, ages 0to 6, under the umbrella of government began sprouting up in states all over the country. The "cradle-to-grave system for all" was taking shape across the country and fewpeople recognized it.
MREdCo reached a decision in the summer of 2000 that, in order to sustain itself, toexpand to meet the challenges facing us, and to inform and equip the public regarding theeducation and workforce system rapidly developing around us, a stable, long-termorganization would be necessary. The all-volunteer organization could not continue to meetthe growing demands. A commitment was made by the board of directors to launch a majorfundraising effort, hire an Executive Director, relocate and expand the MREdCo office toSt. Paul, and hire office staff.
In February of 1999, MREdCo representatives traveled to Washington, D.C. for meetings with congressional members and staff on the Senate education committee. At the same time,meetings were arranged with other groups active in education policy in Washington.Proposed amendments to the ESEA were discussed that would relieve the federal mandate.Ultimately, the ESEA became bogged down in controversy, and action on an education billwas never completed.
MREdCo's statewide organization of parents, students, teachers, school board members,business owners and other involved citizens operated entirely as volunteers. Theorganization mushroomed into a network of tens of thousands of citizens. The Minnesotalegislative sessions brought efforts to completely repeal the Profile. Another rally atthe Capitol in April of 1999 brought 5,000 people to the Capitol steps, again featuringMREdCo. MREdCo maintained a presence at the Capitol, monitoring legislation and hearingsand frequently providing testimony. Public pressure was building on the legislature to dosomething.
In 1999, Congress began proposing its five-year reauthorization of the Elementary andSecondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA reauthorization was the first opportunity forCongress to make significant changes in the direction of federal education policy sinceGoals 2000 and School-to-Work were passed in 1994. MREdCo emails were being sent andcirculated nationally. Leaders of MREdCo were attending and speaking at national educationconferences and on national radio shows.
MREdCo is an organization that began in 1998 in southern Minnesota as a handful ofparents committed to preserving educational freedom for their children. In three years, ithas become a leader nationally in educating the public, policy makers and opinion leaderson the nature of the new education system that is being instituted in every state in ourcountry. MREdCo has much more leadership to provide, and its directors have set theirgoals on building and supporting an organization that is capable of accomplishing thatgoal.
MREdCo thoroughly researched the restructuring of our nation's educationsystem, referencing federal and state laws and original source documents. Then, MREdCo launcheda website, MREdCo.com, and began sending out weekly e-mail updates regarding thebackground of the new education system, the plans for its implementation, reviews oflegislative proposals and critiques of public reports and news items. People came to relyon the accurate, up-to-date, and well-researched material MREdCo provided.
2004: EdWatch in Action
2003: EdWatch in Action
2002: EdWatch in Action
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