Education for a free nation

EdWatch! You've just repealed the Profile of Learning and replaced it with knowledge-based academic standards! What are you going to do next?

Judging by who showed up to the group's national conference on the Saturday after Election Day, they're formulating some big plans. The conference had no fewer than ten "co-hosts," ranging from education groups such as Citizens United for Responsible Education from Washington state, Education Policy Center from Virginia, and Texas Standards Reform; to Eagle Forum, Minnesota Family Council, and Freedom 21.

A significant percentage of the conference attendees likewise hailed from outside Minnesota. The Profile is dead, and most of the Minnesotans who crowded past EdWatch conferences and rallies seem content to give the new standards a chance. The next round of legislative battles for more money for K-12 seems more suited to the House and Senate caucuses and the Taxpayers League than to EdWatch.

The conference theme, "Education for a FREE Nation," reflects EdWatch's evolving identity as a national advocate for promoting such traditional ideas as national sovereignty, parental rights, and free markets. EdWatch is developing into a focal point for many other groups concerned with issues such as curriculum, standardized testing, the federalization of education, early childhood education (EdWatch calls it "Baby Ed"), and mandatory mental health screening.

Just as EdWatch was a fixture in the halls, chambers, offices, and tunnels of the Minnesota Capitol complex, to get to the next level they will need a presence on Capitol Hill. They are trying to fund a full-time education lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Even if the effort is not successful this year, EdWatch is already riding a strengthening wave of conservative thought, joining other like-minded grassroots groups across the country.