Minnesota Baby Ed Alert, Part I
March 10, 2005
 
1. Goal 1 of Federal Goals 2000
2  Early Learning Standards   SF 592 / HF 1192


1. Goal 1 of Federal Goals 2000
In January of 2001, EdAction released an 3all-points bulletin,4: called "Goal 1 of Goals 2000 comes to Minnesota.4
 
Our organization, parents and taxpayers around the state successfully held off that massive, expensive, and dangerous expansion of government intrusion into families, but that plan is here in the 2005 legislature in a big way!

The 2001 alert is again relevant in 2005. For example, our 2001 alert stated:
 
The next giant step of the federal Goals 2000 agenda is being unveiled to the legislators and to the public: Goal 1, All Children Will Start School Ready to Learn.
 
The nearly 1/2 billion dollar proposal, "The Action Plan for Early Care and Education in Minnesota," would establish a comprehensive Early Childhood Education (ECE) "system" in Minnesota complete with assessment measures. It is intended for "every child." It would "tie the two worlds of pre-K and K-12 together systemically and universally." It would establish an appointed "School Readiness Council" in every school district to oversee preschool needs in the district, under the supervision of the state Department of Children, Families and Learning.
 
We went on to say, "Some refer to it as Baby Ed, defined clearly by Marc Tucker, one of the chief architects of the new education system, when he said, "What is essential is that we create a seamless web of [education]...that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone..." [Marc Tucker's letter to Hillary Clinton, November 11, 1992]  Not coincidentally, Marc Tucker was invited by legislative leaders (Sen. Dean Johnson, House Speaker Steve Sviggum, and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza) to speak to legislators in a closed door briefing last month. EdWatch alerted the public, and your calls scuttled that event.

These issues are a high priority once again in the 2005 legislative session. A number of separate pieces of Early Childhood legislation are moving through the legislature. Together they form a massive financial and structural expansion of state authority over our youngest children. They would move our state a long way toward Tucker's "cradle to grave" education system. These bills have strong momentum.
 
The components of the plan include the following:  
2. Early Learning Standards   SF 592 / HF 1192
Senate authors: Kierlin; Kubly; Robling; Scheid; Pappas
House authors: Davnie; Slawik; Welti; Ruud; Sieben

The proposed system of standards for preschoolers resurrects the failed Profile of Learning through excessively vague, subjective, non-academic, and psychosocially inappropriate indicators that usurp parental authority

These standards have an inordinate emphasis on social and emotional development. Among other things, they do the following:
NAEYC Standards
 
Are NAEYC standards relevant to The Minnesota Early Childhood Standards? NAEYC has endorsed them. The Minnesota affiliate of NAEYC (MNAEYC) helped write them. The NAEYC Anti-Bias Curriculum worldview will be easily implemented through the vague, subjective, non-academic standards -- the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress. 

Gender and Cultural Identity

For example, the Minnesota Standards, Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, define family responsibility for developing "self-concept" as the following:
"Support childrens awareness of and pride in their cultural heritage." 
The Minnesota Standards then define the teacher's responsibility this way:
"Support childrens developing understanding of their gender and cultural identity." 
Of course, this is not the proper role of the care provider, at all. "Gender and cultural identity" issues are core family issues.
 
How will teachers carry out their responsibility for the gender and cultural identity of the child? NAEYC's Anti-Bias Curriculum explicitly states:
"Expanding Children's Understanding of Gender Anatomy and Identity: Make copies of an outline of a body as drawn by a preschooler, and in small groups ask children to fill in all the body parts, and to show if the person is a girl or boy. (p. 53)
"Have anatomically correct dolls availableFor example, tell a persona doll story where a few of the dolls ask questions about what makes them a boy or a girl (p. 53)
Activism in Young Children
The Early Childhood Indicators of Progress state:
 "Social Systems Understanding: Participate in activities to help others in the community
These activities are not simply benign social services, as suggested by the phrase help others. This is where our youngest children will be trained into social activism. School children are frequently manipulated to participate in lobbying and demonstrating for social policy and political change. We've seen this recently at our own Capitol at rallies for increased education funding. The NAEYC Anti-Bias Curriculum states it this way:
"Activism with Young Children: Young children have an impressive capacity for learning how to be activists. (p. 77)
Along those lines, a November 14, 2002 Berkeley newspaper article reported the following:
"The next generation of Berkeley peaceniks gathered on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to demonstrate their opposition to a pending war in Iraq- after school, of course. Armed with protest signs, microphones, and Harry Potter lunch-boxes, elementary and pre-school children demanded city leaders contact President Bush and halt his hawkish war for oil. - Steve Sexton 11/14/02
Politicized Environmentalism
 
We also have the politicized environmentalist agenda finding a home in the Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress:
"Social Systems -- Understanding: Share responsibility in taking care of their environment "
This is where the one-sided and extreme approach to environmentalism that so pervaded the Profile of Learning and which is still embedded into much K-12 curriculum today will be implemented. '

Diversity Training

Diversity training was a big part of the Profile of Learning for K-12. Many of those requirements were repealed when the Profile was repealed, but advocates for the Minnesota Early Learning Standards intend insert it into the child care system for our youngest and most impressionable children. The Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators state:
"Social Systems Understanding: Recognize and appreciate similarities and differences between self and others from diverse backgrounds."
The NAEYC Anti-Bias Curriculum states it this way:
"Homosexuality: Definition of Homophobia: A fear and hatred of gay men and lesbians backed up by institutional policies and power that discriminate against them. (p. 3)
Mark Kindt, former Assistant Attorney General of Ohio, stated:
Most citizens would recognize the anti-bias curriculum as a highly politicized curriculum which seeks to impose a particular ideological world-view upon children. Most taxpayers would simply be astounded that tax dollars are routinely being spent toward the state-by-state implementation of these apparently politicized standards.  [Improper Special Interest Influence in Key Contracts: An Analysis with Preliminary Observations on the Politicized Agenda in Child Day Care ] 
 The Action Plan for Early Care and Education in Minnesota states:
"We believe Minnesota needs to have a much larger number of ECE programs that meet NAEYCs standards." (p. 18)
 
Minnesota's Early Childhood Early Childhood Indicators of Progress meet the NAEYC standards. The Anti-Bias curriculum is required for certification of teachers and programs by NAEYC. The Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators will serve as a basis for evaluating and labeling toddlers, rating child care centers, training teachers, certifying Child Care Centers, and teaching parents. They are a breathtaking intrusion of government into the lives and values of families. Adopting them would impose the Profile of Learning on our youngest and most impressionable children.  Adopting them would be a brutal betrayal of the voters who elected this legislature and the children and parents of this great state.
 


Minnesota Baby Ed Alert, Part II

March 14, 2005

1.  Early Screening
2   Universal Mental Health Screening for Kids
3. A Package Deal

1. Early Screening
Preschool screening is not just about numbers, letters and vision tests. The new Early Learning Standards (called the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress -- see Part I) will set the standards for early screening. This means that the state will be testing our kids beginning at 3 for state "social and emotional" outcomes. They will also test for mental health.

The Senate bill, SF 906 does the following: Early screening is already invasive. Does your family smoke? Drink? Own a gun? Do drugs? Is your home "unsafe"? Is your child "overly friendly"? Timid? Clingy? Distracted? Can't sit still? Early screening is asking these questions and more.

Is this what we want state government doing to families? Add the new Early Learning Standards, mental health screening, expanded data collection and permanent records, and we have a massive and expensive new invasion of government into the authority and privacy of families.

Two other bills add bribes to school districts to screen kids early -- the younger they are, the more state money a district receives! One of the bills also assigns a state tracking number to our little ones when they are screened, requires development assessments at the beginning and end of school readiness programs (based on the new Early Learning Standards), and makes the assessments part of the child's permanent record.
 
2  Universal Mental Health Screening for Minnesota Kids 
A powerful and well-funded lobby that includes the pharmaceutical industry intends to include mental health screening in the Early Learning screening. The Surgeon Generals Report on Mental Health, 1999, showed how difficult it is to accurately diagnose young children when it stated:
 
The science is challenging because of the ongoing process of development. The normally developing child hardly stays the same long enough to make stable measurements.  Adult criteria for illness can be difficult to apply to children and adolescents, when the signs and symptoms of mental disorders are often also the characteristics of normal development.
 
Mental health screening for young children is one of the recommendations from the controversial New Freedom Commission on Mental Health's (NFC) to the Governors of the states. The pharmaceutical industry had enormous influence on the treatment recommendations in the NFC report. EdWatch has written extensively on the problems related to mandatory mental health screening for young children, which leads to frequent misdiagnoses, inaccurate labelling, and an increase in drugging of our youngest children. It is also subject to abuse and misuse through identifying particular political philosophies as hallmarks of mental illness. (See "Myths and Facts," p. 3)

For more information on this subject, click here or here, or order our Mental Health Screening Briefing Book with articles, a CD-rom with those articles, a Power Point presentation, and excepts from a radio debate between Dr. Effrem and a member of the New Freedom Commission.

SF 1365 / HF 1513 adds mental health screening to the early childhood screening. SF 1365 will be heard in the Senate during the week of March 21st.

SF 905 links early learning to public health services and attempts visits to the homes of all poor families with children from ages 0 - 3. It ties child mental health to definitions of "school readiness" and extends school readiness outreach to families with children 0 - 5. It inserts itself into families everywhere --  at all welfare service locations, home visits, doctors, child care, foster care services, shelters, nurseries, and more. Do you get the picture?

3. A Package Deal

The pieces of this massive system are a package
that is broken into many smaller parts. A single bill of the entire package could not pass the legislature. Farming out pieces to individual legislators brings more authors on board, because, individually, the pieces may appear innocuous. Some of the authors of these bills are not necessarily advocates of creating a massive new state bureaucracy to oversee a system to raise the children in Minnesota. However, that is exactly what this package is. Every piece is an important link.

Ready 4 K, for example, states on its website that theirs is a "comprehensive plan for early childhood care and education... A Five Year Plan. The R4K 2005 Legislative Agenda is the first stage for putting in place elements for an effective, coordinated early care and education system." Their legislative agenda includes every bill we are describing.
 
One goal listed on their website and not yet included in any current legislation, but which they obviously intend to add, is the following:
 
"Establish a new definition for child care which affirms that children are learning in all settings."
In other words, even homes would be defined as "child care," opening them up to government regulation.
 
False Early Childhood Crisis: There is no kindergarten readiness crisis in Minnesota or nationally.

There is not anywhere close to solid agreement on what skills and characteristics constitute kindergarten readiness. There are, however, large, well-done studies that belie the statements by those with a vested financial and power interest in creating a false crisis that can only be fixed with another government program.

Commissioner of Education, Alice Seagren, wrote in the Pioneer Press last month that the multi-million dollar advertising campaign now in full swing in Minnesota to scare the public about a "crisis" misrepresents the studies they are using as the basis for their claims. "They [the studies] did not brand some students ready or not ready for kindergarten," she emphatically stated. She knows, because the studies they reference are from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Yet Ready 4 K, the well-heeled non-profit group that stands to profit handsomely from the expansion of government into childcare, continues its radio and newspaper ads unabated, even in a promotional video that they presented to a Senate sub-committee this month. Their school readiness data is false!

The federal National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) reported in their long-term, well done study of more than 22,000 children, "America's Kindergartners," February, 2000 that: Many legislators will point to the difficult situations, the most needy and uncared for children who require government intervention. Those concerns are valid, but they cannot explain the creation of this new government system that encompasses all Minnesota's children. The Early Learning standards will set the foundation for credentialing, training, rating private child care centers, and assessing every child at age three. In this case, the hard cases are simply being used by advocates of universal government managed early care as cover.

 


Minnesota Baby Ed Alert! Part III
March 15, 2005
 
Corporations & Foundations Fund State Take-over of Child Care
Well-funded foundations and corporations, like Cargill and Fuller, are pouring money into Minnesota to promote, lobby, and organize for this government take-over of Minnesota's kids. For example, the following invitation, signed by Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, went to all legislators: 
"Several organizations in our state, including The McKnight Foundation, the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, Ready 4 K, the Minnesota School Readiness Business Advisory Council (MSRBAC), the University of Minnesota, and others have joined together to provide an avenue to focus attention on the issues and opportunities in early childhood care and education in Minnesota.            ;     
"We invite you to attend a special Legislative Reception & Dialogue being held during this conference on Monday, March 21st from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. in the Great River Ballroom, Riverfront Radisson Hotel, St. Paul.
              
"During the reception, you will have an opportunity to converse with your constituents.  We, along with facilitator Chuck Slocum, President of The Williston Group, will lead an interactive dialogue from 5:45-6:15 p.m. with conference participants.
                
"Over 600 people from Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro Area are expected to attend this event.  We believe this conference will be the largest assembly of participants from diverse community sectors to attend a conference focused on early care and education. Participants will represent: business, elected officials, parents, K-12/higher education, child care providers, Pre-K educators, public health, law enforcement, faith community, community volunteers, foundations, and other sectors." 
Minnesota is one of the states targeted by a multi-state project, the National Build Initiative, that plans to "build a coordinated system of programs, policies and services" for children, birth through age five -- a state-run system of early care for our children. The Initiative is well-funded by 15 major foundations and endowments, including the W.K. McKnight Foundation , the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (dedicated "to promote universal, quality education and care for pre-kindergarten children), and the Kellogg Endowment (focuses on "policy reform," meaning, changes in state law). They have poured up $350,000 into Ready 4 K to activate a network in Minnesota and promote their plan. It appears that wealthy foundations and corporations with an agenda are purchasing a state-run system of child care in Minnesota. Who will speak up for the families?

The Minnesota Early Learning Fund (SF 907 / HF 1419) is a bill that sets up a non-profit group (Early Learning Foundation) with state matching funds to create "strategies" for implementing the new system of child care in Minnesota effectively and efficiently -- the standards, the assessments, the rating system, the grants, and so on. This Fund will give Ready 4 K our tax money to fully implement their plan. Minnesota government will "partner" with the large corporations and foundations that are driving this agenda. The mission of the Fund is described as establishing "infrastructure supports and accountability measures." This puts unaccountable non-governmental organizations in charge of child care policy in Minnesota and is a major shift in governance.  It sounds a lot like No Child Left Behind for babies and toddlers.

HF 1419 has a hearing scheduled in the House Education Finance committee for 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 in Room 5 of the State Office Building. SF 907 had its hearing in the Senate last week, and it will be included in the Senate omnibus education bill. Please call Rep. Sykora, the House chief author of HF 1419 today. She is open to some of our concerns. Please urge her to either drop the bill entirely, or to amend it, leaving foundations free to continue doing what they already do privately. At a minimum, she should amend it to put the legislature (our elected representatives) in complete control over policy developed by this foundation, since it is funded with state taxes. (See her telephone number below.)

Marc Tucker's letter to Hillary Clinton, November 11, 1992, stated: "What is essential is that we create a seamless web of [education]...that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone..."  Tucker would be pleased with the direction Minnesota is headed.