Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

MinnPost’s education reporting is made possible by a grant from the Bush Foundation.

More on Education Liberty Watch’s fear of Big Government

For your weekend consideration, a few outtakes from this week’s reporting on the small but apparently mighty group Education Liberty Watch, which scuttled a series of revenue-neutral early childhood education initiatives that enjoyed near-universa

For your weekend consideration, a few outtakes from this week’s reporting on the small but apparently mighty group Education Liberty Watch, which scuttled a series of revenue-neutral early childhood education initiatives that enjoyed near-universal support.

Early on, in its incarnation as first the Maple River Education Coalition, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s first proving ground, and later as EdWatch, the group’s members weren’t shy about describing their overarching fear as the clear path from government intrusion into the family to a national curriculum designed to churn out automatons ill-equipped to question authority who will not recognize that they are being groomed to prop up a planned economy (aka Communism) and, eventually, one-world government.

Karen Effrem
Education Liberty Watch
Karen Effrem

Pediatrician Karen Effrem, the group’s president and a dependable fixture at education-related hearings at the Capitol this year, has a history of lobbying on health care, mostly in opposition to mental health screenings and vaccination rules.

One fear: Health care reform literally opens the doors for Big Government to intrude in the home:

Article continues after advertisement

• “These odious home visiting programs send government workers into the homes of mostly poor families, although the Federal home visiting bill also wants to do the same with military families. These workers then make sure children are being raised according to government standards, collect massive amounts of data about every aspect of the family and their lives, and make sure that families are ‘helped’ into dependence on government services like childcare/preschool and mental health services.”

Home being the place where children are properly educated in their early years, according to the research Effrem has reviewed. By fifth grade, for instance, children who participated in all-day kindergarten display greater behavioral problems and struggle with math, she reports.

ELW board member and attorney Marjorie Holsten, who teaches constitutional law to homeschooled students, writes on the group’s blog that Minnesota’s proposed social studies standards are a PC disaster. They talk too much about slavery and indigenous peoples and too little about the Creator and American exceptionalism, in her opinion:

• “Students then move forward to ‘Expansion and Reform, 1792 – 1861,’ where they study westward movement and resulting conflicts ‘focusing on the dispossession of indigenous land and the impact on indigenous nations.’ This might be expected in a liberal college class entitled ‘Indigenous Studies about Evil White Supressionism,’ but not in a class to be taught to all public high school students in Minnesota.”

• “There are two opposing schools of thought relating to the New Deal, one of which holds that the unconstitutional government-expanding legislation comprising the ‘New Deal’ prolonged and worsened the depression.” 

• “I would also surmise that no mention would be made that it was the Republican party that fought for civil rights for all, the Democratic party that fought against such rights, and that civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.”

(Fair warning: I lost a dangerous amount of time on Fox and the urban legend websites trying to fact-check this one. Suffice to say, the Internet can be a dark and murky place and by the time of his assassination, King had supported several Democratic presidential candidates.)

ELWers express similar concerns about the creeping spread of “globalism,” which is why they oppose the expansion of International Baccalaureate programs.

Likewise, the group has lobbied against curricular standards at both the state and federal levels. In the recently concluded legislative session, Effrem lobbied hard against both Minnesota’s adoption of the Common Core Standards, a states-led initiative to insure that academic proficiency means the same thing everywhere, and the state’s proposed social studies standards.

Article continues after advertisement

“These unconstitutional, academically weak standards that contain the elements of the federal/internationalist agenda will become the basis for the MCAs in reading and writing,” Effrem warned. 

Never mind that Tim Pawlenty was a proponent, ultimately lawmakers voted to prohibit Common Core and the Minnesota Department of Education has delayed adoption of the social studies guidelines.

Indeed, the former governor’s conservative bona fides don’t pass muster with the group: He is referred to alternately as the “supposedly conservative Pawlenty” and as a “putative conservative.” (Remember Bachmann’s 2006 assertion that Pawlenty supported a “homosexual agenda?” I didn’t either.)

The business community receives similarly harsh judgment: “Sadly, instead of advocating for free markets and economic liberty, big business, via the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Partnership, and the Business Roundtable, are the ones most involved in pressuring the Republicans to implement government control over the private schools.”

Lastly, Effrem was critical of Your Humble Blogger’s March coverage of early ed’s disappearance from House omnibus legislation. She suggested I should engage in “a little more reasonable investigative reporting.”

I’m afraid I have to concur. I am chagrined that I was on ELW’s radar screen months before they were on mine. I hope they’ll cut me a little slack. I am, after all, the product of Minnesota’s badly broken public school system.