Minnesota Pushes Baby-Readiness for the Workforce as Means for Infant Education

Baby photo for the workforce

Minnesota Pushes Baby-Readiness for the Workforce as Means for Infant Education

By Linda Bell

Invited Testimony: On January 24, 2019, the MN House Early Education Committee invited Labor Economist, Aaron Sojourner of the Carlson School of Management, to provide his ideas on behalf of the organization, “First 1,000 Days.” Essentially, Sojourner feels strongly that prenatal home visits and school by year 1 for all children is optimal for their “brain growth” and good for our state’s “economic development.   Read on.  Listen here.  http://ww2.house.leg.state.mn.us/audio/mp3ls91/child012419.mp3

[You should know from the onset, MACC respectfully disagrees with Mr. Sojourner’s ideas.]

The vision: “If we can use investment – we can drive the success of the community.”

A mid-1980s research experiment, the “Infant Health & Development Program” was used as evidence for the necessary school child development. Personally, I wonder why more legislators didn’t question the hypothesis from this flawed “research” that studied only the top wealthiest 20% and lowest income-level 20% when results were easily predictable.  The lowest 20% made gains via school and school breakfast and lunch. Wouldn’t we have expected this outcome? And, their conclusion based on flawed research? Enroll all infants in school, free, full-day, 5 days a week.  Their brains are not developing well at home with their parents.

From his testimony, “Families have the least private resources early in their lives.  Our kids are young and have the most private responsibilities which creates a cascade of crises, but go back to that fundamental tension… It’s really hard to meet the dual responsibility of caring and earning.”  And yet, families have been raising children for centuries!!!

Caveat: MACC absolutely supports helping those who are malnourished!!! Who wouldn’t? However, this research doesn’t show ANY “evidence” to warrant moving all children into the schools from birth or 1 year.  Remember: We already have numerous programs in place to help those in need and for a variety of needs.  (Unfortunately, some of these programs are riddled with fraud/corruption!)  But for the malnourished, certainly changes in the amount of funding can be amended as needed without placing the entire population of infants into school!

Secondly, a plea was made to Minnesota businesses because infants in schools will make great investments and benefit the workforce.  Yes!  Check the hearing audio with your own ears!  This thinking comes to us from the Workforce portion of the Common Core Standards.  Indeed, many in business have been indoctrinated into believing that their charitable acts will better all of society, without of course, asking us! Did Prof. Sojourner consider the effects on the family? Does he realize that not everyone sees their children as a game piece for the workforce overlords?

From testimony: “James Heckmack, Nobel Laureate at the University of Chicago estimated an 8% return on early childhood programs.  The rate of return to private capital in the stock market is doubled rate of return. If you invest $1 for 20 years @ 8%, you make $50.00.”[per child]  Really!!!

And continuing, Human capacity develops through a “life-long process” [cradle-to-grave] and early in kids’ lives their brains are very subject to contingency based on their experiences.”

Concluding, Prof. Sojourner declares, Early experiences have life-long consequences. We should think about this time in a kid’s life as a once in a life-time investment opportunity and this shouldn’t be seen as a burden – it’s both.  We don’t get those years back!  We are the most of families when they have the least provokes this set of crises that are entirely predictable.  With information we can better decisions about and invest in our resources.

Well, here the professor is partly correct!  There are very few parents who would miss those precious early childhood experiences!  Every parent knows that loving, caring and spending time with your children do have life-long consequences and we can never get those years back.  We definitely agree there!

The First 1,000 Days’ website supports helping others by fighting malnutrition.  So why is Professor Sojourner promoting infant schooling for all children?  After looking through the website, especially at the sponsors… Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JI Packard Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and others, I could not find any mention of infant education but did find the resource page and their call to action.

“As the world embarks on the new era of sustainable development to end poverty in all its dimensions, your leadership is urgently needed to prioritize investments in nutrition. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that our governments have adopted requires a much stronger focus on ensuring that all people—but especially women and children—have the nutrition they need to thrive.” 

 Bingo! So the First 1,000 Days is helping to implement the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, of which some are not-so-good. You can also see their alliance with UNICEF, United Nations International Children’s Fund

First 1,000 Day graphic

Founding Partners:

First 1,000 Days sponsors

And 80 other world-wide partners.  https://thousanddays.org/about/partners/

And allies:

First 1,000 Days alliesTAKE ACTION!

These grant approvals and bills are moving very fast in both Senate and House, no matter how far away their genesis originates!  IMMEDIATE: Call education committee chairs today!

“I do not want further incremental or expansive funding for 4 year Preschool, Home Visiting OR Birth to 3 Education through bill passage or acceptance of federal grants, writing new state grants. Tell them to HIT PAUSE before the legislature goes any further in funding mandates that the public is not interested in.”

Sen. Carla Nelson, Chair, Senate Ed Policy & Finance 651-296-4848

Rep. Dave Pinto, Chair, House Early Education 651-296-4199

Rep. Cheryl Youakim, Chair, House Education Policy 651-296-9889

Rep. Jim Davnie, Chair, House Education Finance 651-296-0173

All in all, those who promote a top-down structured early education, whether for Preschool 4s, or Birth to 3s or Home Visiting, all have a certain mindset that children are better off in a school setting away from their parents.  We could draw connections to any number of socialist, communist and fascist governments who gathered in all the children while pushing off parents.  Today in America, government and corporate hands are working far too closely.  Somehow our legislators are just not seeing it.  We can do better for our children and our children’s children!  It’s up to US to help them!!!