EdWatch has engaged this alliance, Ready4K, by unpacking their claims and counterclaims point-by-point. I have commented on their misrepresentation of Minnesota Department of Education studies, which they continue to use to claim that "Half of all Minnesota kids are left behind because they start kindergarten not fully prepared."
Ready4K has already made a big investment in efforts to turn the North Star State into the Nanny State. They have a slick web site, logos and a polished visual identity, and a large board of directors from "medicine, education, business, public service, the clergy and advocacy." No doubt they have the welfare of Minnesota children at heart, but does it really take a village to raise a child, or does it take a family? Another government program with its attendant bureaucracy, intrusive regulations, and insatiable budgets?
The current American Experiment Quarterly features three articles on early childhood education. As the Legislature is poised to make the big "investment," we should consider the findings of the study "Early Childhood Education: A Caveat" by Darcy Olsen:
America's flexible approach to early education gives children a strong foundation. Skills assessment at kindergarten entry and reports by kindergarten teachers show a large and increasing majority of preschoolers are prepared for kindergarten. The effectiveness of the current system is also evident in early test scores. At age ten, U.S. children have higher reading, math, and science scores than their European peers who attend the government preschools cited by advocates as models for the United States. To the degree that the state remains involved in financing early education, we recommend measures for transparency, program assessment, and improved flexibility through individual student funding.
The Nanny State is still in "draft" form, mostly in the Senate version of the education omnibus bill. Governor Tim Pawlenty and the Legislative leadership are waiting for you to weigh in on the direction for Minnesota's early childhood education, toward supporting parents or toward a takeover of child rearing by those who "know better." Ready4K is standing by, ready for your $.