Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More from the Educrazies

I wrote a few weeks ago about an organization called Education Liberty Watch, which is part of the crazy Right in Minnesota. Little did I realize its current work was to derail bipartisan legislation that would have improved early childhood education in our state.

Karen Effrem head shotWriting on MinnPost, Beth Hawkins tells the story of ELW's director, Karen Effrem. Effrem (a pediatrician, believe it or not) is a frequent speaker at legislative hearings. She somehow managed to convince 12 Republican legislators to agree with her organization's belief that preschool is evil, and that's all that was needed to kill legislation that took years to craft and would have helped thousands of kids and their parents. (Effrem's earlier claim to fame was testifying against requiring vaccinations for school.)

The legislation Effrem defeated was supported by both parties, and was shepherded by Duane Benson, a former Republican Senate minority leader and now head of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. As Lori Sturdevant showed in the Star Tribune recently, Benson did everything right to sell the program to Republicans:

[He came] to the Capitol with a passel of proven ideas that spring from traditional Republican philosophy. They had substantial business backing.

Among them: Don't start a new government program. Make use of existing private-sector providers. Engage them in a purely voluntary rating system. Take advantage of market forces. Empower poor parents to be informed consumers. Trust them to make preschool choices, in the same way affluent parents routinely do.

Here's the key one: Don't spend more tax dollars. Spend the tax dollars you already have in wiser ways.
Who could argue with all of that? Well, a group like Education Liberty Watch could. According to MinnPost's Hawkins, ELW offers "research of its own showing that 'intact families and high levels of religiosity' are the key to closing the academic achievement gap..." and believes it's imperative to "cut taxes 'so that one parent can afford to stay home and raise children' and to 'support intact families” by reforming welfare policies and no-fault divorce laws."

Strike another blow for theocracy in Minnesota.

No comments: