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EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION
105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com

April 4, 2006

Report from the Capitol

Action is fast and furious at the Capitol. The very good news is that the grassroots network of parents and citizens are weighing in by phone, e-mail, letters, and personal visits. These are parents, grandparents, and very concerned taxpayers who are appalled at the 2006 onslaught of the Nanny State and its interwoven mental health outcomes and assessments for our children. The bad news is that the money and power behind these proposals make this a lop-sided battle of epic proportions. In addition, all of the Senate bills listed under "bad news" are all being forwarded on for possible inclusion in a Senate omnibus bill -- meaning that the Committee Chair (Sen. Hottinger) will choose whether or not to fold it in as one component of a massive Senate early childhood bill.

THE GOOD NEWS
1. The Governor's Bill, HF 3623: Spends over $10 m of new money per year to implement the Profile of Learning for preschoolers, called the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, including mental health screening; interventions based on vague, inaccurate, and subjective state outcomes, called Early Childhood Indicators; authorizes the state to teach all parents the state's version of proper parenting; grants to child care providers, family, friends, and neighbors, to participate in state training in the states idea of proper parenting based on the bogus state Indicators.

REPORT: HF 3623 encountered a huge stumbling block in the House when it failed to pass out of the Education Policy Committee before the April 4th deadline. Author Meslow is beginning attempts to make changes to satisfy critics.  May reappear in another form or as an amendment on the House floor. House authors are Meslow; Slawik; Sykora; Wardlow; Larson; Lillie; Ruud; Lenczewski. Senate version is SF 3300. See that report under "The Bad News."

2, SF 906: Mandatory screening of Minnesota kids "at least once by age three" and resurrecting the failed kindergarten assessment

REPORT: This year's new author of SF 906, Sen. Bonoff, has removed mandatory screening of Minnesota kids "at least once by age three" from her bill. Please thank Sen. Bonoff for taking this action. (Terri Bonoff (DFL) (651-296-4314 ) Sen. Bonoff called our office to tell us that she opposes that language, and that most people oppose screening too early. She is right, and EdWatch is excited to pass on the report that Sen. Bonoff is with us in believing that early screening is very bad policy. She has also removed the requirement for community outreach to ensure that all children are screened by age three.

However, SF 906 continues to implement the Department's kindergarten readiness assessment.(See # 3 under "The Bad News.")

3. HF 3179, Article 3: Gut parental rights by overriding parental refusals for a special ed evaluation

REPORT: (See State Attempts to Gut Parental Rights, March 16, 2006.) The Minnesota Department of Education eliminated that proposal in a bipartisan vote of the Education Policy Committee on March 24th.  Article 3 would  have reversed parental rights over the testing of their children for special ed. The Department language would have reinstated school districts' ability to override parental refusal of a special education evaluation or re-evaluation. The proposed language would have allowed this forced evaluation, right or wrong, to follow a student for life. Commissioner Seagren promised, after researching the federal IDEA law Dr. Effrem cited in her testimony against the provision, that it would be removed if found to be unnecessary. She made good on her word. Please e-mail or call  Commissioner Seagren (651-582-8200 ) to thank her for reversing a bad policy.

THE BAD NEWS
1. SF 3300 The Governor's Bill: Spends over $10 m of new money per year to implement the Profile of Learning for preschoolers, called the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, including mental health screening; (See ##1 above for full description.) The Senate bill would also certify childcare programs to incorporate a school readiness program into their programs, based on the  vague, inaccurate, and subjective state outcomes, called Early Childhood Indicators.

REPORT: Was heard in the Senate Early Childhood Committee on March 21st. EdWatch testified against SF 3300 and HF 3623 in both the Senate and in the House.

2. SF 3296 / HF 3672, $2.5 million to The Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, the post-democratic public-private partnership, to implement and control a state defined rating system over private and religious child care, based on the use of the Early Childhood Indicators -- a diversity training curriculum for toddlers.

REPORT: (See Nanny State Assault Continues , March 23, 2006) On Thursday, March 23rd, the Senate Early Childhood Committee forwarded SF 3296 on for possible inclusion in the Senate omnibus bill. That means that the Committee Chair is free to fold it in as one component of a massive early childhood bill. The full Senate won't adopt this measure separately. The House companion bill, HF 3296, was introduced on March 20th, and has not received a hearing in the Education Policy Committee. The Senate authors are Hottinger; Bonoff; Kierlin; Kelley; Scheid. The House authors are Davnie; Meslow; Slawik; Greiling; Heidgerken; Nornes; Ruud; Moe.authors

3. SF 906 / HF 1759, implements the bogus Departments Kindergarten Readiness Assessment -- Profile of Learning style content and assessments for our youngest children.

REPORT: (See Minnesota Nanny State Assault Returns, March 20, 2006.) On Thursday, March 23rd, the Senate Early Childhood Committee heard  SF 906  EdWatch testified against it. As we discussed last year, and despite the good amendment (see #2 under "The Good News" above) SF 906 would require No Child Left Behind (NCLB) style adequate yearly progress (AYP) based on the controversial, vague and subjective Early Childhood Indicators, including mental health outcomes. (See EdWatch 2005 update, Part II for more about the Indicators.) Senate authors are Bonoff; Wergin; Sparks; Nienow; Pappas.

The House version, HF 1759, was introduced one year ago and has not been heard in the House Education Policy Committee. House authors are Meslow; Wardlow; Nornes; Slawik; Greiling; Dorn; Bernardy. The House version still has the language requiring mandatory screening of Minnesota kids "at least once by age three."

4. SF 2841 covertly  adds mental health screening to what is required in the developmental assessment for preschool screening.  HF 3599, the House version, adds mental health screening overtly.

REPORT: (See Mental Health Screening Bill "Ethically Challenged," March 13, 2006.) On Thursday, March 9th, SF 2841 was heard in the Senate Early Childhood Committee. EdWatch, the Minnesota Family Council, and a licensed psychologist testified against it. Senate authors are Hottinger; Scheid; Kelley. The House version, HF 3599, was introduced on March 16th, and has not received a hearing in the Education Policy Committee. House authors are Meslow; Greiling; Clark; Ruud; Simon.


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