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March 23, 2006

Nanny State Assault Continues
        On Thursday afternoon, SF 906 will be heard in the
Senate Early Childhood Committee. It will require screening
of kids in Minnesota "at least once by age three."
It will also bring back the vague and subjective
Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (see last alert).

        As expected, the votes were there on March 21st to pass SF 3300 out of the Senate Early Childhood committee. SF 3300, the Governor's bill, is a massive, expensive expansion and intrusion of government into the private lives of our families and preschool children. It is based on the vague, subjective and politically correct Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, which are being implemented step by step for teaching to parents, for preschool curriculum, for assessments, and for so-called academic interventions. While we knew SF 3300 would pass, EdWatch was there to testify in opposition, knowing that the road to final passage or defeat is only beginning. Thank you for your calls and contacts to legislators.

         Thursday, March 23rd, testimony to implement a Quality Rating System (SF 3296), that will impose a government curriculum on private childcare providers and drive those who do not comply out of business, will be completed, and SF 906, a requirement to screen all Minnesota kids "at least once by age three" will be heard. We need you to continue contacting legislators in both the House and the Senate opposing those bills. Even though the Senate committee is stacked to pass the entire Nanny State agenda, this hearing sets the stage for the battles coming up. The Nanny State that was valiantly fought off last year is back in full force. We cannot stand idly by and let this system engulf our children and our parental authority.

Senate Early Childhood Policy and Budget Division
Chair: Sen. John Hottinger
3 p.m. Room 123 Capitol
Agenda: Thursday, March 23
S.F. 3296-Hottinger: NorthStar Quality Improvement and Rating System (QRS).
S.F. 906-Bonhoff: Kindergarten assessment initiative.

Expands the Early Learning Foundation to include
the Quality Rating System
-- SF 3296 Hottinger

The Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) is an unaccountable public-private partnership to implement and control early childhood policy in Minnesota. It was brought to us last session by Senator Hottinger, and Representatives Sykora and Meslow, funded at $1 million.  Senator Hottinger now wants MELF to receive another $2.5 million to implement and control the quality rating system (QRS) that failed last year.

In beginning testimony on March 21st, it became clear that, for many child care providers, they simply want the money. Period. As one provider put it, "There have been complaints here of government intrusion. Please intrude!"

Under SF 3296, the foundation will bribe childcare programs, including private and religious programs, with taxpayer-funded grants in exchange for inculcating children and undermining parental authority with the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress at progressively higher rates -- the more they comply, the more money they receive. (See Ready4K's latest version of the QRS, now called the NorthStar System.)  The bill itself also states that programs participating in the QRS must implement the stateís Early Learning Indicators. Because the programs that do not comply will be driven out of business if they do not implement the government curriculum (the Indicators), this bill creates a de facto monopoly.

Screens ALL Children AT LEAST Once by Age 3
SF 906 Bonoff / HF 1759 Meslow

SF 906 requires a "mandatory program of early childhood developmental screening for children at least once by the child's third birthday." Senator Kelley authored this failed bill (see EdWatch 2005 update, Part II) in the Senate last year. It has now been handed off to Terry Bonoff, the new Senator from Plymouth.

That could mean screening at birth, something actually being promoted by the federal government Mental Health Action Agenda and the Road Map for Mental Health System Reform in Minnesota, also endorsed by the Governor. Community outreach plans are also required "to ensure that all children are screened by age three." (Emphasis added).  This plan would include all children, whether they are headed for public school or elsewhere. Senator Hottinger's bill SF 2841 to add mental health screening to the required developmental assessments passed the Senate committee. SF 906, together with Hottingerís mental health screening bill, will require that ALL children in Minnesota be screened for mental health at least once by age three.

SF 906 also would implement the Departmentís kindergarten readiness assessment as discussed in the Governorís bill in our last alert.  As we discussed last year, SF 906 would also require No Child Left Behind (NCLB) style adequate yearly progress (AYP) based on these worthless Indicators.

SF 906 states:
"The district must develop and implement community outreach plans to diverse populations to ensure that all children are screened by age three. Districts are encouraged to include parents, community partners, public or private health care organizations, and individual health care providers in the development of the outreach plans."
This is the way all children will be screened.

SF 906 states that the Kindergarten Readiness Initiative is based on the two Department of Education school readiness studies begun during the Ventura administration. Since the assessment criteria directly quoted the controversial Early Childhood Indicators, we know that the entire Kindergarten Screening Initiative is based on the Indicators, too. (See EdWatch 2005 update, Part II for more about the Indicators.)

For more information, link to these resources:
 Response to Ready4K's Misinformation

 innesota Nanny State Tidal Wave Held Back
False Data on Reday4K Baby Ed Agenda

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