April 25, 2005

Minnesota House Education Finance Committee Chairwoman Barb Sykora and Representative Doug Meslow completely undermined the parental authority and student privacy rights of Minnesota citizens while composing the omnibus education finance bill this week. The bill includes every element of the radical Nanny State that we have warned you about these past weeks. It includes: the radical, non-academic, Department diversity training standards (curriculum); screening based on these standards, including mental health screening of 3 year olds and a data tracking ID number for three year olds; a big government rating system of childcare centers; and using tax dollars to put unaccountable private groups in charge of Minnesotas childcare policy.  In addition, one of the few freedom-affirming provisions to require opt-in parental consent for invasive, non-academic student surveys was stripped out of the bill.
The lynchpin of the Nanny State system is the controversial Early Learning Indicators (curriculum) that define for all parents in Minnesota what their infants and toddlers -- birth through five should be taught. This de facto curriculum puts the government in charge of what is normal mental health for babies and toddlers through social and emotional learning. It indoctrinates kids into the political agendas of gender identity, diversity training, vocations, environmentalism, and social activism. This state-defined curriculum for toddlers and infants will be used for evaluating all Minnesota kids beginning at three, including their social and emotional (mental) health. The state will use this curriculum to rate private, religious, and public child care centers, all early learning programs, and to train parents in what they should teach their children.
The bill is Article 7 of the House K-12 Omnibus Education Finance and Policy Bill, HF 872. HF 872  passed out of the Finance Committee this week, and it goes on to the Ways and Means Committee and the Tax Committee. 

We would expect the liberal-controlled Senate to produce an Early Childhood bill (SF 1879) that Ready4K and the education establishment would swoon over. (Wow! This is the first major ray of hope since Arne Carlson was Governor, Todd Otis from Ready4K gushed in his testimony last week.) More distressing was their being joined by Republican Senator Bob Kierlin of Winona to include every element of the Nanny State: testing, standards, child ID, private and public childcare rating system, and putting  unaccountable private groups in charge of Minnesotas childcare policy. The Senate, however, thanks to Senators Betsy Wergin and Sean Nienow, however did include the safeguard of written, informed parental consent before children can be screened for mental health. An attempt to remove that safeguard failed in committee last Friday.