Protect Your Children & Parents' Rights
March 22, 2009
Despite serious economic problems, huge deficits, high taxes and too much regulation, Minnesota state government is looking to expand its control in the raising and education of young children, take over private childcare, decrease parental choice, and spend more money it does not have on invasive and ineffective programs. Here are the bills of serious concern as well as a brief update on the budget situation and ideas of how you can be involved to protect both your freedom and your money.
1. More Government Control Over Early Childhood Care and Education - When EdWatch Action first reviewed the early childhood language presented in the education omnibus policy bills (HF 1026/SF 1218 and SF 1253 - education policy bill), we thought it was another typical example of the Democrats' big-government tendencies. Imagine our shock and horror when we found out that this language came from the state Department of Education, supposedly run by Republicans. Here are some of the many problems with this bill:
- The new definition of the state early childhood system now puts the state in charge of "all aspects of children's development" "to prepare all children for kindergarten."
2. State Takeover of Private Childcare - Private childcare providers are starting to speak out against the state takeover of private childcare via the quality rating system (HF 40 and 246/SF 72) that we have discussed in our recent alerts (here and here). A Scott County childcare business owner, Joy Massard, eloquently described the many problems with this system that include (Audio available here from March 3rd hearing starting at 1:17:13):
- Instead of just dealing with cognitive education, these state readiness programs want to take control of the enormously subjective and controversial "social, emotional, and physical" aspects of education for young children as well when government has no authority nor is it their role to do so.
- Even though the program is touted as voluntary, providers will be forced to join in order to compete in the marketplace
- Being forced to teach the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, regardless of their beliefs or the beliefs of the families in their care
- Being forced to have to give the subjective Kindergarten Readiness Assessment
3. Budget Battle - Sadly, instead of using the huge state budget deficit as an opportunity to undertake much needed structural reform in education, the governor is instead relying on accounting shifts and one-time money from the pork-laden federal stimulus bill. Instead of cutting any of the wasteful and invasive programs that EdWatch recommended in our recent alert that focused almost exclusively on early childhood, the state's education budget problems are just kicked down the road for future politicians. The governor's updated budget seeks to spend another $27,614,000.00 on an already bloated, failing public education system. To the governor's credit, there were over $1 billion dollars of further reductions in Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, none of those, with the possible exception of something in children's mental health, included any of EdWatch's recommendations to cut the invasive and ineffective childcare or mental screening programs. Details will be forthcoming. The Democrats are even worse in that they have not put forth any budget proposal whatsoever.
- The financial and bureaucratic burden of joining this system