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Januray 7, 2008
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2010-2011 Budget Reduction Recommendations

(Current and Governor's Recommendations from Dept. of Finance)

February 25, 2009

1. Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and Intervention Program - (Ed. pp, 254 & 261-262)
Current - $ 573,000 Governor - $574,000 EdWatch - $0
This assessment should be completely eliminated, not increased or even held harmless. It uses very vague and subjective criteria based on very vague, subjective, and politically correct outcomes, The Early Childhood Indicators of Progress. This ridiculous assessment gives fuel to the Nanny State falsely claiming that 50% of Minnesota children are not ready for kindergarten.
2. Preschool Screening - (Ed. pp. 254 & 263-266)
Current - $6,576,000 Governor $7.427, 000 EdWatch - $0
This could be off-loaded to health care providers as part of school physicals and Medicaid already does this screening as part of federal EPSDT for poor children. This is the source for the very subjective statewide mental health screening that Minnesota does apparently to comply with federal special education mandates that each state identify enough children with socioemotional problems to obtain federal funding.
3. Educate Parents Partnership - (Ed. pp. 254 & 273-274)
Current - $100,000 Governor - $100,000 EdWatch - $0
The state does not need to and should not be telling parents how to raise their kids, especially in hospitals right after babies are born.
4. Head Start - (Ed. pp. 254 & 267-269)
Current - $40,200,000 Governor - $40, 200,000 EdWatch - $0
More than 600 studies show the lack of effectiveness of this program, there are several studies showing emotional harm to participants, and MN already received $189.5 million in federal funds over the last two federal fiscal years for this. Apparently, 20% of costs for a local program need to come from local sources, but this is already happening due to donated volunteer time, space, etc. Even if all of the state portion couldn't be cut, surely something can be downsized in these difficult economic times.
5. ECFE - (Ed. pp. 254 & 255-257)
Current - $51,850,000 Governor - $44,745,000 EdWatch - $0
Some more or all of this warm, fuzzy program that, according to the Legislative Auditor, shows no evidence of developmental gains for children and only some increase in parental feelings of effectiveness should be cut. The levy that pays for home visiting under ECFE should also be eliminated.
6. Early Childhood Literacy - (Ed. pp. 129 & 149-151)
Current - $3,000,000 Governor - $2,000,000 EdWatch - $0
Although an early childhood program that focuses on literacy is not all bad, it is still not right to spend state tax dollars to utilize Americorps volunteers that are funded with federal tax dollars. Since this program is new in 2007 and there is no effectiveness data, it is an unaffordable luxury.
7. After School Community Learning Grants - (Ed. p. 295)
Current - $5,233,000 Governor - $0 EdWatch- $0
We agree with and appreciate this cut from the governor. Funding is needed for K-12 during the school day. This new (2007) program is an unnecessary luxury.
8. Advanced Placement (AP)/International Baccalaureate (IB) - (Ed. pp. 22, 128-129, & 304)
Current - $9,000,000 + $13,000,000 expansion = $22,000,000 Governor - $9,000,000 + $2,000,000 expansion from concurrent enrollment fund = $11,000,000 EdWatch - $8,250,000
The EdWatchrecommendation removes the 25% of funding that goes for IB tests and programs by statute. AP programs are locally controlled, prepare students better for college, comport with MN academic standards, and are far less expensive.
Health and Human Services
1. MELF Quality Rating System (HS pp. 34 & 325) -
Current Grant - $877,000 Governor - $877,000 (federal) EdWatch - $0
Although EdWatch is grateful that state funds are not being expended for this very bad program, the governor wants to use federal tax dollars to continue it until the pilot evaluation is finished at the end of 2011. Even though it is a pilot project now, there is legislation to make this statewide and encompass all private childcare programs as well. The required assessments for children include the very vague and subjective Work Sampling System (Kindergarten Readiness Assessment) based on the very vague, subjective, non-academic and politically correct Early Childhood Indicators of Progress.
2. Family, Friend and Neighbor Grants (HS p.324) -
Current - $743,000 Governor - $0 EdWatch- $0
EdWatchstrongly agrees with and very much appreciates this cut from the governor's budget. This puts the state in charge of monitoring and directing childcare by aunts and grandmothers. It directs families and children into and promotes the same outcomes discussed just above as well as all of the other big government, nanny state programs and services.
3. Early Childhood Professional Development - (HS p. 324)

Current - $496,000 Governor - $0 EdWatch- $0
EdWatch strongly agrees with and very much appreciates this cut from the governor's budget. This is the next step to licensing and unionizing childcare workers. There are big problems with the group certifying at least one of the early childhood degrees for which the TEACH program pays. The Child Development Associate credential was created and is certified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The CDA requires use of NAEYC's radical Anti-Bias curriculum, which deals with topics that have absolutely nothing to do with closing the achievement gap - issues like gender anatomy and identity, gender roles, homosexuality, witchcraft, the alleged racism of the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving, etc. We see this as protecting children from the harms of government indoctrination, including in the controversial area of sex education. The governor should be thanked.
4. Mental Screening of Children Receiving MFIP Benefits - (HS p. 330)
Current - $227,000 Governor - $400,000 EdWatch - $0
EdWatchis very disappointed that the governor would want not only to continue, but actually increase the funding for this ridiculous program. Besides being extremely vague and subjective, this screening program is VERY discriminatory and stigmatizing for poor and minority children - basically assuming that because they are poor, they are more prone to mental illness. It will also lead to dangerous, ineffective, and expensive medications.
5. Home Visiting - (Health pp. 108-109)
$16,839,000 listed in 2007 Appropriations bill 2009 - $7,785,000 + $225,000 = $8,001,000 (federal listed in MMB narrative)
No Governor Rec. EdWatch - $0

Home visiting programs are very expensive and begin prenatally. These programs raise significant consent, data collection, privacy, and 4th amendment concerns. Even proponents and three major studies admit that these programs do not decrease child abuse rates, and there is no evidence of improvement of cognitive or social development of children in them. These programs are not liked by the minority communities and were strongly opposed by many conservative groups and commentators.

6. Children's Mental Health Screening Grants - (HS p. 340)

Current - $7,969,000 Governor - $9,118,000 EdWatch - $1,000,000

This program is described as "grants to counties for screening, assessments, and resulting mental health services for children in the child welfare and juvenile corrections systems. (Served approximately 9,000 per year)" Children in these situations are distressed because of poor family situations, they are not mentally ill. Instead of expanding the use of psychiatric drugs in children, they should be working to document and decrease the amount of drug used in children in foster care and Medicaid. 66% of foster children in Massachusetts, 60% in Texas, and 55% in Florida are on psychiatric drugs, many on antipsychotics and many on multiple drugs. Florida and Texas have 20-30% increases per year in Medicaid for these drugs per year. EdWatch recommends a study to find the number of children in corrections and foster care on these medications and then a move to the Critical Think Rx program out of Florida that is part of a lawsuit in Alaska. This program seeks to stop the use of these drugs in children unless and until: (i) evidence-based psychosocial interventions have been exhausted, (ii) rationally anticipated benefits of psychotropic drug treatment outweigh the risks, (iii) the person or entity authorizing administration of the drug(s) is fully informed, and (iv) close monitoring of, and appropriate means of responding to, treatment emergent effects are in place.

7. Children's Mental Health Early intervention Grants - (HS p. 340)
Current - $1,910,000 Governor - $2,048,000 EdWatch- $0
This program seeks to "earlier intervention for the healthy mental development of young
children." There is already plenty of evidence that children, especially young children are falsely labeled and medications are overused in children and are dangerous and ineffective. For example -
  • New York Times article from 5/11/07 that ran in the Star Tribune showed that from 2000 to 2005, drug makers' payments to Minnesota psychiatrists rose more than six-fold. During those same years, prescriptions of antipsychotics for children in Minnesota's Medicaid program rose more than nine-fold.
  • 4000% increase in children labeled bipolar
  • 2.5 million children on antipsychotic medications (Vanderbilt 2006)
  • 45 deaths in children on antipsychotic medications between 2000 and 2004
  • 300% increase in psychotropic drug use in 2 to 4 year old children (JAMA 2000)
  • 300% increase in psychotropic drug use in children with increased use of antipsychotic and mood stabilizing drugs in children on Medicaid (poor and minority) merely as a behavior control tool. (Arch. Of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 2003)
8. School Based Children's Mental Health- (HS p. 340)
Current - $8,916,000 Governor - $9,554,000 EdWatch - $0
This programs is described as "new funding appropriated as part of 2007 Governor's MH Initiative to integrate children's mental health service capacity into natural community settings, especially for school-based mental health services." Schools need to be concentrating on academics instead of screening, labeling, and drugging children. This is a new program with no evidence of effectiveness and is an unaffordable luxury.
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