EdWatch
105 Peavey Road, Suite 116
Chaska, MN 55318
952-361-4931
http://www.edwatch.org

July 21, 2005
Minnesota Nanny State Tidal Wave Held Back
Success for Families Opposing a comprehensive new system
for all children, birth - 5

2005 MN Legislative Report #2.
[See 2005 MN Legislative Report #1, "Huge Mental Health Victory for Mn Families."]

        Minnesota held back the tidal wave of a new and expansive pre-school system that would have put in place the building blocks for a Minnesota Nanny State for all children birth - 5 . This planned system of curriculum standards, and screening and assessments of all children, based on those curriculum standards, was not adopted in the 2005 MN legislative session.

The chief proponent of Minnesota's Nanny State, Ready4K, states it this way on their website:
Small baby steps were taken by the Legislature and Governor, but bold investments in our young children, and our future, were left for another day.
This a tremendous success, in spite of some real disappointments. We and the public are up against large corporate business interests, special interest groups, and radical social planners who have massive funding at their disposal and complete, easy media access. We are not operating on an even playing field in our commitment to protect fundamental parental authority over our own children. The success we had in holding back the tide in 2005 is truly inspiring, and it is due to the persistent involvement of EdWatch and the many parents and constituents who made their views known to lawmakers. A heartfelt thank you to all who were engaged in this battle for our children!

A Big Disappointment: Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF)
        The biggest disappointment in the 2005 legislative session is the passage of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), an unaccountable public-private partnership set up outside state government that will oversee a state grant program to influence and mold the childcare programs in Minnesota. While MELF is defined as helping low income families, also included is an undefined, vague category of "other challenged families." MELF's purposes also  include expanding public and nonpublic childcare "capacity" and teaching all parents what to teach their children. The door is now open for special interest groups to use state money to set up a state childcare "system" for all, with a politicized agenda to train unsuspecting parents, direct the curriculum of public and private childcare centers, and expand government workers visiting homes.

        We are grateful to Rep. Sykora, Buesgens, Erickson, and Heidgerken for keeping out explicit language adopting curriculum standards, assessments, and a childcare quality rating system based on those standards as part of MELF's purposes. The special interest group Ready4K has already developed a Quality Rating System, however, which they seem to have expected to be adopted into statute in this session. The Ready4K Quality Rating System is based in part on childcare centers implementing the worldview curriculum standards in order to be rated "qualified." 

        Even without adopting the standards, assessments and the quality rating system within MELF, however, the very existence of MELF is major trouble for parents and families in Minnesota. Nothing in the law prohibits the MELF grant program from being used by bureaucrats to promote the Quality Rating System. In fact, taxpayer funded early childhood funds (ECFE) are currently being used in Anoka, Ramsey and Washington Counties to train unsuspecting private childcare providers in the radical state curriculum standards, telling providers that it will help them become "quality rated" by Ready4K, and thereby gain them access to state grant money. Once again, taxpayer money is being used to guide families and private and public childcare centers into teaching content such as gender identity, social activism, environmentalism, group identity and diversity training to our youngest children.

        On the positive side, in addition to reining in some of the most objectionable parts of MELF, the final bill now subjects MELF to the state open meeting law that governs most public agencies, giving the public access to board meetings. MELF must also report back to the legislature on its activities next year, and report two years later on the success of the grant program.

        Minnesota has unfortunately already travelled too far down the road of the state teaching radical worldview content to our youngest children at taxpayer expense. While the advocates of universal state-directed child care expected far more for themselves from this legislative session, the passage of MELF still provides them far too much opportunity to have their way behind the scenes, working within the bureaucracies of federal, state, and local governments. If the Governor and the Chair of the House Education Finance Committee, Rep. Sykora, had been willing to oppose MELF, it would not be with us today.

What else was stopped   
1.) Profile of Learning type curriculum standards for 3 and 4 year olds were not adopted into law. This de facto curriculum consists of vague, subjective, non-academic, and psycho-socially inappropriate indicators. It usurps parental authority for teaching values and beliefs to children and it would have been aggressively promoted to all parents and all childcare providers at taxpayer expense.
2.) Profile of Learning type curriculum standards for children, birth through age 3 were not adopted into law. We can expect this de facto curriculum, still in development by the Department of Human Services, to be similar to those for 3 and 4 year olds. They would have been distributed to all parents of infants and toddlers and to childcare centers.
3.) A requirement that child care providers receiving any state money would be required to base their programs and care guidelines on the state-mandated curriculum standards was not adopted into law.
4.) Mandatory, universal developmental screening of all Minnesota children at least once by the age of three was not adopted into law. This would have extended developmental screening to all children, whether or not they would have attended public schools.
5.) Aggressive state promotion of screening 3 and 4 year olds, coordinating various groups to work together, such as childcare programs, community organizations, public and private health care organizations, and individual health car providers was not adopted into law.
6.) A system of universal preschool assessments that mirror No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) most controversial mandate, the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) was not adopted into law. The DFL Senate plan would have set goals for the number of preschoolers "reaching proficiency on all measures of the assessment," and the measure of proficiency would have been the Profile-like curriculum standards. Each year, the goal would have increased: 6,000 children meeting proficiency in 2006; 18.000 in 2007; 30,000 in 2008; 45,000 in 2009; and 60,000 in 2010, finally getting to 100%. The Department would have reported on progress toward these goals on a school by school basis. This AYP is straight out of NCLB.
7.) A Quality Rating System (QRS) for both public and private childcare centers (misrepresented as being "voluntary") was not adopted as part of the education bill. Republican Sen. Bob Kierlin carried the QRS proposal in the Senate, and it was included in the omnibus Health and Human Services bill. It appears at this time that the QRS was not adopted in the final Health and Human Services bill, either. However, we are awaiting final confirmation of this information. The QRS would have required integrating the worldview curriculum standards into childcare programs and activities in order to be "qualified," and it would have tied government grant eligibility to any childcare center based on its "quality" rating.
        Stopping these seven items is an extraordinarily important accomplishment.

What else was gained
1.) Thanks to language authored by Representative Karen Klinzing, parents may now use their own physician or health care provider, rather than the school district, to have their child developmentally screened before entering a public kindergarten program, and school districts must inform parents of that option.
2.) Assessments of a child before and after participating in school readiness programs will be limited to "cognitive" skills, rather than including a child's values, attitudes, and beliefs.
What else was not stopped
1.) When children are initially screened, they will now be assigned a child ID number for data tracking by the state and federal governments. This ID number will collect and store personal information and testing and screening information that will follow them throughout their lives.
2.) A "coordination program" will now be implemented to use existing state programs, resources, and policies in the Departments of education, human services, and health to cooperatively push state early childhood initiatives. That means that existing programs, such as health, nutrition, welfare, home visiting, public and private health care, foster care, and shelters, will promote the state early childhood programs. That coordination will be reviewed by the legislature next year.

Order DVD: "Nanny State Take-over"
This $14 DVD is the April 14th presentation by Dr. Karen Effrem at a St. Paul, Minnesota Capitol luncheon. (Includes shipping and handling.)

The Minnesota Early Learning System:
How a Political Agenda is Being Forced on Our Families & Children
Call to order your copy today: 952-361-4931

Learn what bills the legislature was considering and how those bills would have would forced a political agenda on our families and our children! These same issues will be back with us in coming legislative sessions.

EdWatch is entirely user-supported. The continuation of our research and distribution work is entirely dependent upon individual contributors. If you want to assure that our work continues, click here.  If you want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this EdWatch e-mail service, mail to: edwatch@lakes.com. Put "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" in the SUBJECT of themessage. Resources of videos, books, and audiotapes are available on our shopping cart.