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March 27, 2006

Profile of Learning for Preschoolers
 See "Report on Action in the Senate" at the end of this alert.

         Friday afternoon, March 24th, the House Education Policy Committee took up the House version of the
Governors Bill SF 3300 / HF 3623. Final passage may come as early as Tuesday, March 28th.

        Rep. Karen Klinzing (R- Woodbury) offered an amendment on March 24th to HF 3623 which would limit developmental  assessments to "academic skills and learning history." The amendment also clarifies that "a psychological evaluation is not a screening component and a psychologist must not serve as a screening program provider or supervisor." This is an absolutely necessary amendment, because districts are already presuming to do universal mental health screening in the routine developmental screening. (See Sen. Hottinger's attempts to "assume" mental health screening is part of screening.)

        Advocates of mental health screening that are receiving pharmaceutical industry funding and federal tax dollars to implement this system are aggressively attacking this common sense amendment. Most parents think that developmental screening is about cognitive development. They do not expect that their child is being screened routinely for mental health. Children should never be routinely expected to have to be interviewed by a psychologist. This vague, unscientific screening does lead to false labels, unnecessary special education placement, and drugging with dangerous, ineffective psychiatric drugs.

        HF 3623 begins literally at birth to establish the state as the authority over children and parenting. A section called Educate Parents Partnership requires the state, health care providers, and community groups to "partner" together to provide parenting information to new moms before they leaves the hospital. As one mom testified in the Senate, why do legislators and the governor think that government bureaucrats know what's right for my child? Most modern parents have read enough parenting books to be aware of the current controversies and opposing viewpoints. Demand or scheduled feedings?  Spock or Sears? Child-centered or parent led?"  (See testimony from March 21st.)

        Senate author Robling defended required state parent education in the hospital as simply providing an unobtrusive "care package" of information and resources as the mom returns home. Any woman who's delivered a baby in the past 20 years knows that new moms already leave the hospital loaded with tons of "care packages." Now it becomes state law to use our taxes for the Minnesota Department of Education and unnamed local activist groups to present themselves to all new moms as the authority on what's right for their kids. EdWatch's opposing testimony in the Senate stated:
"We believe that this program is overreaching, paternalistic, and offensive to families. The state is imposing itself and its chosen organizations on mothers at a most vulnerable time for women. Few mothers who just delivered their babies are up to fending off outsiders telling them what to do. Mr. Chairman, parenting is the domain of parents and families, not of the legislature. You are not the parents of our children." (Senate Early Childhood Committee, March 21, 2006)
        It's no secret that business groups and their bi-partisan allies in the legislature want our kids in school by age four. Since the "Educate Parents Partnership" is a recommendation of the massive business coalition trying to impose preschool on all, we can expect the "resources" parents will receive will be indoctrination of parents on the urgency of getting their kids into preschool.

        A 2005 study out of the University of California at Berkeley reports that expansion of early childhood programs is causing the very problems that they are purported to remedy.  That study said:
attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers...Our findings are consistent with the negative effect of non-parental care on the single dimension of social development first detected by the NICHD research team.  [That earlier study found that children who spend more hours per week in non-parental childcare have more behavior problems, including aggressive, defiant and disobedient behavior in kindergarten.]
        At a Feb 2, 2006 Senate/House hearing, a business advocate stated that business developed the dual-earner household model, because business needs both parents in the workforce. He then proceeded to lobby for taxpayers to supply child care for these two-parent workers and to get children into preschool early so that children develop the right attitude toward work. Rep. Slawik (DFL-Maplewood) asked how business intended to "pony up" to address their problem. Ironically, Slawik is co-author of HF 3623, which provides an infusion of tax dollars into private child care facilities if they add preschool using the vague, subjective, and psychosocially indoctrinating Early Childhood Indicators, and if their staff become certified in the state system of diversity training.

        HF 3623 uses tax dollars to bring the state Early Childhood Indicators of ECFE into private and religious childcare and into family, friends and neighbors arrangements. The Indicators represent a resurrection of the Profile of Learning for our youngest children. They require children to show vague, non-academic traits, such as empathy to their peers and eagerness and curiosity as a learner.  Gender differences would penalize boys compared to girls. Many of the social outcomes include very controversial social issues that are covered in the Indicators, such as teaching "gender identity." They essentially impose a particular set of attitudes and beliefs on our children. The Indicators are consistent with a worldview of diversity training, group consciousness, consensus morality, environmentalism, oppressor/oppressed mentality, and social activism. 

        HF 3623 brings back the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment that was defeated in last years session. This is a bogus assessment for determining readiness for school and is based completely on the Indicators. The evaluation is not a specific, objective, or valid measurement of our children. For example: STATE PRESCHOOL FOR ALL
         Finally, HF 3623 pays private, religious childcare and family settings to set up a preschool curriculum that uses the states school readiness program. The state is in essence saying that its wisdom in caring for and educating young children is superior to the knowledge and experience of grandmothers, aunts and other family members. We vehemently disagree and we think it is not the role of the state to be inserting itself into family interactions by promoting or approving an individual curriculum or set of beliefs

Report on Action in the Senate
On Thursday, March 23rd, the Senate Early Childhood Committee
 heard SF 3296, a rating system for independent childcare settings
based on the controversial Early Childhood Indicators.

The Senate author of SF 906 removed mandatory screening of
Minnesota kids "at least once by age three" from the bill.

SF 906's vague and subjective Kindergarten Readiness Initiative
remains in SF 906.

Both Senate bills were laid over for possible inclusion in the Senate omnibus bill
         Sen. Bonoff (DFL- Minnetonka), chief author of SF 906, deleted the mandate to screen all children from birth on.SF 906 was a "partner" with the bill to add mental health screening to developmental screening. Together, these two would have allowed the state to screen all children "early and continuously" from birth to age five, as the Road Map for Mental Health System Reform in Minnesota recommends (p,. 165). This duo failed last session, but they were back again this year. Mental health screening as an additional component of early developmental screening (SF 2841) is moving forward in the Senate, however.
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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