March 16, 2010
Despite the horrible economy, enormous deficits, and boiling frustration with big government on the part of the electorate, the nanny state busy bodies in the legislature, state bureaucracies, and a cabal of progressive foundations are moving full speed ahead with implementing policies and laws to make parents irrelevant, destroy private childcare, and control every aspect of children's lives from birth to school entry.
Besides the bill we discussed in our last alert that plans to continue implementation of the quality rating system, several more bills have tried to make a comeback or a new appearance that would unite all of the different entities that try to control our children, expand the subjective, invalid kindergarten readiness assessment, cement into place the controversial Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, create a cabinet level Commissioner of Early Learning and expand the subjective early childhood screening. Here is the list of bills with authors and a brief summary of their problems:
Expansion of Early Childhood Screening (HF 3470 Slawik / SF 3119 Rummel) - This bill directs the governor's early childhood advisory council to make recommendations to legislature by 2012 about how to expand the already subjective, ineffective, and duplicative early childhood screening program. That early childhood mental health is a significant target is evidenced by the bill itself that says the domains of school readiness include "social; self-regulation" and documents obtained by EdWatch for an upcoming meeting of the Early Childhood Advisory Council, Standards Subcommittee that show that mental health is in one of the "four ovals" of emphasis in early childhood standards. Mental health screening of young children continues to be done based on a rule for which there is no legislative authority. This is all despite the fact that the National Council on Infant and Child Health Policy among many other groups admits that accurately diagnosing and treating mental problems in young children is extremely difficult. In addition, the bill does nothing to acknowledge settled Minnesota statute 121A.17 subd. 3e and subd. 5. These statutes say that parents may conscientiously object to preschool screening and that districts must inform parents that they do not have to participate in preschool screening. These provisions are systematically ignored by school districts that repeatedly lie to parents falsely telling them that screening is legally required. This bill is especially onerous and dangerous to parental rights and autonomy and will likely lead to more children being falsely labeled and drugged. (You may listen to the discussion of this bill and the next two here by going to the March 11th hearing. Dr. Effrem's testimony for all three bills begins at 25:38.)
Department of Early Learning (HF 3510 Peterson / SF 487 Michel)- This bill seeks to expand and formalize the early childhood bureaucracy by putting a commissioner in charge of all early learning programs in the state. This commissioner will be charged to "ensure the accountability and coordinated development of all early childhood education and child care services to children from birth to kindergarten entrance," as well as to "develop and manage an effective data collection system." Although lip service is paid to parental control and family values, the question that needs to be asked is how will parents have any meaningful control or input when this commissioner is in charge of the "accountability and coordinated development" of all these programs and there has never been any legislative approval of or public comment available for the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress that teach 3 year olds about gender identity, cultural identity, careers, environmentalism, and social activism? This bill has appeared for several years at the legislature and because of the cost and increased bureaucracy, will likely fail, but should be opposed because it expands the size and scope of government and control over our youngest children. (You may listen to the discussion of this bill and the next one hereby going to the March 11th hearing. Dr. Effrem's testimony for all three House bills begins at 25:38.). The Senate bill authored by Republican Geoff Michel was heard last year and takes a somewhat different path by creating a Director of Early Learning and will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, March 18th.starting at 8:30 AM. Neither bill is a good idea.
Imposition of Early Childhood Report Card (HF 3471 Nornes / SF 3131 Clark) - This bill directs the governor's early childhood advisory council to make recommendations to legislature by next year about what items to include in a statewide "report card" in order to meet the big government "goal" sadly legislated last year of "having all children ready for kindergarten by 2020." The House chief author of this piece of nanny state expansion is Republican Rep. Bud Nornes who let himself be used by 15 big government Democrats and who also voted for the irresponsible bonding bill. This report card will likely move to expand the subjective early childhood screening which also includes mental health, the invalid kindergarten readiness assessment, regulations and burden on private childcare, and more private data collection on children and families. Although using private funds for this report, it should be opposed, because it is more government interference with the raising and education of Minnesota's youngest children. (You may listen to the discussion of this bill hereby going to the March 11th hearing. Dr. Effrem's testimony for all three bills begins at 25:38.)
Early Childhood Community Partnerships (HF 3200 Peterson / SF 2909 Saxhaug) - This bill is a resurrection of the early childhood community hubs bill that Rep. Sandra Peterson and Senator Tom Saxhaug introduced in 2007. It seeks to coordinate early childhood education, childcare, child and family mental health, home visits, adult education and social services all in one partnership. Also it seeks to further cement into place the whole idea of the quality rating system and seeks grants from the general fund in order to fund grants to implement this long list of bad ideas. This is consolidation and implementation of the entire nanny state agenda in one bill all for programs that are of little or no effectiveness, in some cases are harmful, collect massive amounts of data on children and their families, promote psychiatric screening and labeling of young children, and undermine parental authority and family autonomy. The hearing may be heard here (see links under March 2nd hearing), with Dr. Effrem's testimony beginning at 23:35.
State Early Childhood System in Governor's bill (HF 3407 Slawik / SF 3045 Wiger, article 4) - After publishing the horrifically subjective and controversial Early Childhood Indicators of Progress several years ago without any public comment, continuing to mentally screen young children, and imposing state control of social and emotional (mental health) development in school readiness programs last year, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty's education and human services departments continue their alliance with the nanny state proponents. The governor's bill proposes a statewide early learning system that puts the state in charge of "all aspects of children's development and [to] prepare all children for kindergarten" (emphasis added). This is another example of the state's growing appetite for control of every aspect of the minds, emotions, and raising of Minnesota's children. Lead Republican on the House Early Childhood Committee, Rep. Keith Downey asked some excellent and pointed questions about the scope of this system. Listen to that as well as committee Chairwoman Nora Slawik's (D-Maplewood) lament that the state can't control more children in private programs and in care of family, friends and neighbors herefollowing the link for the March 9th hearing starting at 44:28.