It's tough to make a case against early childhood and family education (ECFE) programs. Who could be against helping parents to raise their children? After all, it takes a village to raise a child, right? Or does it take a family?
There is a tall stack of ECFE bills pending at the Minnesota Legislature that I hope will never see the light of day. Some will make it out of committee and become blended into the omnibus education bill, a (necessary?) evil of the legislative process that packages the good, the bad, and the ugly for a single vote.
So are children members of a family or wards of the state? Liberty or equality? Equal opportunity or equal outocomes? Governor Pawlenty and legislators from both sides of the aisle increasingly favor less liberty and more expensive and intrusive government programs in education, and now, child rearing. Parents, are you listening?
Socialist societies refer to this approach as a "cradle to grave" system, meaning that citizens are required to participate in (i.e., become dependent on and accountable to) government programs for their entire lives. The system is based on the idea that the people don't know best, but "non-governmental organizations" (NGOs) that are unaccountable to regular citizens do.
For example, take the governor's Early Learning Standards, which are at the core of the "nanny state" system. According to EdWatch, "They are primarily state-defined social and emotional outcomes for kids that are deliberately vague, subjective, non-academic, and psychosocial."
EdWatch lists the following legislation of concern:
- Government-required curriculum for all children, birth through four - controversial Early Learning "Standards" (Curriculum) of social and emotional indoctrination that teach the political agendas of gender identity, diversity training, vocations, environmentalism, and social activism. [SF 592 Kierlin; Kubly; Robling; Scheid; Pappas, and SF 1278 / HF 1323 - The Governor's bill]
- Tests ("screening") of all children for compliance with the required government curriculum at least once by age three, [SF 906, Kelley; Wergin; Sparks; Nienow; Pappas], including mental health testing, [SF 1365 (Tomassoni; Solon; Hottinger; Anderson / HF 1513 Greiling; Goodwin; Abeler; Slawik and SF 905 Kubly; Hottinger; Kierlin; Pappas; Scheid], and assigning a Child ID. [S.F. 1278 / HF 1323 - the Governor's bill, and S.F. 1853 Wergin]
- A preschool rating system of public and private child care centers based on the required government curriculum that endangers private and religious options. [SF 592. See above for authors.]
- A transfer of elected authority to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are unaccountable to the voters. [SF 907 / HF 1419]
I find it amazing that a people who on the one hand enjoy an unprecedented level of personal liberty are on the other hand working so hard to give it away.
Perhaps it is time for the state to recycle the cover image of a 1999 brochure published by the Department of Children, Families, and Learning (a statement in itself, currently called the Department of Education), entitled "Their Minds are in Our Hands." At the time it was a Freudian slip that was pointed to by alarmed conservatives shouting "See!?" Today it seems to be turning into a talking point for elected DFLers and Republicans alike.