All posts by higherstand

Happy Birthday, St. Paul! Here, Have Some Government!!! St. Paul College Savings Boondoggle

St. Paul Boondoggle

Here! Have Some Government! St. Paul College Savings Boondoggle

The City of St. Paul will have a new college savings program!  St. Paul, established and funded by our legislature, has a new pilot program to “create a college savings account for every child born to a resident of the city of St. Paul.”

This pilot program is actually setting up a “potential establishment of a statewide program or program duplication by other cities…”  “The city is the owner of the account, but the beneficiary must be the individual child.”

Consequently, the tax payers of Minnesota are”giving” every new baby born in St. Paul and during funding time period a funded personal account.  Every new baby within every economic level.  What strings will come with this government program? Health requirements? Education requirements?

Happy Birthday, St. Paul!!!

Legislative language for St. Paul College Savings program.  Final.

St. Paul College Savings Program

 

 

Great Start for All (HF 1) Short-Term Battles Won; Long-Term Battles Remain

split-rock-lighthouse-at-night

Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act (HF 1) Short-Term Battles Won; Long-Term Battles Remain

For once, MACC had a session without our own bill in committee hearings and could take a deeper look into the workings at the Capitol. What we found out was chilling!

As you know, the Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act, was advanced by the DFL in the House, as the most important bill of the session, House File 1, and most important to our governor.  Not long after, we found a good handful of Republicans were also interested in these very same initiatives and promoted Senate companion bills.  (A few also work on prenatal to 3 policy “pet projects” outside the Capitol.)

Great Start outlined an entire web of programs from prenatal care wrapped up with increasing immunization rates to home visits with expanded funding to a new treasury account to fund babies, birth to 3 and their participation in schools by way of government assistance.  We reported on the trend across the country to put as many children on assistance as possible, and for HF 1, assistance at almost any economic level!

The foundation was set with prenatal care, home visits and babies in schools, and then expanded to include a myriad of programs, regulations and more grants.  In total, Great Start reached a whopping 35 pages of madness and stretched across education, health, higher education and jobs omnibus bills.

Add the CCAP fraud language, Early Learning Scholarship DHS kick-backs and Human Capital Bonds using our children’s personal identity for investment on the open market, and you have major red flag government and corporate corruption.

FIRST, THANK YOU TO ALL MACC MEMBERS & FRIENDS who called and emailed, standing up for parental rights, families and local control.  It really does make a difference when so many voice their opinion to such a radical plan.  You were heard because we did have some good resolution to portions of HF 1.  You can be sure that portions not passed will be back next session.  MACC would like to see lobbying days once a month where we can meet with our constituent legislators and talk with committee chairs.

Key Points: Battles Won; Battles Lost

  • HOME VISITS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN AND YOUNG CHILDREN (Article 2)

Thank you, Senators, for NOT adopting the original language of HF 1/SF 909. To recap, HF 1/SF 909 stated that all parents would be REQUIRED to have home visits prenatally to the 3rd birthday of their child as tied to government assistance, Early Learning Scholarships.

However, language from Rep. Bahner’s HF 1226 Home Visit bill, was adopted to include new policy language, “experimental and quasi-experimental” initiatives within several grants in the Health Omnibus bill.  The grants are unspecific as to how they’ll be used, and thus, the commissioner likely has sway over development and implementation of funding.

FUNDING: A hefty amount of home visiting appropriations are in both Health & Education Omnibus. Remember that home visit programs are already present in Minnesota. The MDE has stated that Help Me Grow home visit referral system is being expanded for greater community coverage.   All the legislature really needed here was funding and they got it! 

  • BIRTH TO 3 INITIATIVE (Article 3)

Again, thank you, Senators, for NOT lowering the age for Early Learning Scholarships from 3 down to BIRTH.  Statutory language will remain at 3 years old with younger siblings from one. MACC has reported all session on this nationwide trend to place as many kids as possible on assistance from birth.

  • PRENATAL CARE w/ INCREASING IMMUNIZATION RATES FOR ADULTS & CHILDREN (Article 1)

HF 1/SF 855 was passed in both the House and Senate.  MACC’s concern regards the incremental removal of individual and parental rights when on assistance.  It is understandable if some need to go on assistance, yet their rights should not be encumbered. This was a battle loss!

  • GREAT START FUND (Article 3)

The Early Learning Scholarship Account is established in the special revenue fund and was the account mentioned in HF 1, as subdivision of Great Start Fund.  Though the term, “Great Start Fund” is not used, the purpose is to fund continuous Early Learning Scholarships and at all economic levels.  This is the funding behind that basic plan in HF 1/SF 30, et all, to fund assistance for babies and toddlers.  MACC questions the amount of testing and screening that will be utilized in this program. You can be sure that the “carrot and stick” approach will be employed when on assistance.

  • GREATER MINNESOTA CHILDCARE FACILITY CAPITAL GRANT PROGRAM (Article 5)

This program grants monies for land acquisition, purchase of building, pre-design and design of new or existing buildings, etc. Additionally, this program will set up community childcare programs outside the Metro which are Parent Aware aligned only.  With the grant comes strings.

On more general fronts, per pupil spending was increased by 2% or $20 billion in appropriations.  This is a $543 million increase from prior year.

Special Education funding for 20-21: $25.4 million and 22-23: $65.2 million.

Voluntary Pre-K and School Readiness Plus is funded for another 2 years.  The Senate wished to make these programs permanent and convert to Early Learning Scholarships.  However, that was not in the cards. 

Thankfully, radical policy did not become law regarding home visits and birth to 3 free child care for All.  On the other hand, expanded funding for Early Learning Scholarships, home visits and many grants programs did occur.  In the end, it is a mixed bag where both sides are funding government assistance and not only for those who might need assitance.  No doubt many legislators have very good hearts, but the people of Minnesota were not ready to dive deep with heavy policy steeped in socialistic programming.  We hope that day never comes!

MACC MOMENT in TIME REPORT- Omnibus Bills Begin their “Horse Trading”

horse trading
MACC *MOMENT IN TIME REPORT*  Horse Trading Begins
The Conference Committees meet this week so amendments may be added and/or language removed from the Omnibus bills.
Friends, MACC has studied the Omnibus bills going into conference committee. First, THANK YOU for your calls and emails into both the House and Senate. They have definitely helped but we are not out of the woods yet!
Hopefully you’ve been following along since the beginning of the session when we showed you that:
*Home visits would be required for 3.75 years if begun prenatally
*The Great Start Fund would be established for Early Learning Scholarships
*Birth to 3 initiative would be established within the early learning scholarships (Additionally, various groups where legislators are engage, want all children in schools at birth.)
*Early learning scholarships would be greatly expanded
*Home visits are already established within Minnesota and the Help Me Grow visit referral system may refer without parental consent to your local school district.
*The Greater Minnesota Facilities grant would fund all aspects of setting up new daycares but only if working with Parent Aware. These new childcares would help replace those forced out by the government. (Parent Aware via government rigged the early learning market by creating a monopoly for only certain kinds of childcare.)
that’s just some of the components of the 7-pg morphing into 35-pg, Great Start for All Minnesota Children Act, known as House File 1 and its various companion component pieces in the Senate.
As the Conference Committee moves to “trade a few horses” and mesh the House and Senate bills together, let’s compare where we stand now.  The check mark defines a policy from HF 1 that is still in either House or Senate omnibus.
Birth to 3 Babies-Toddlers Initiative  √
The House language remains at “Birth to age 3” and the Senate language is “atleast 3 years to 5 (with change to 6)”.  Thanks to Senate leadership for sticking to the 3 year old language. These age levels will be conferenced together.
Early Learning Scholarship Requirements √
In the House, early learning scholarship eligibility:  The childcare provider “MUST”:
(1) participate in the QRIS (quality rating improvement system) [ie. Parent Aware]
(2) beginning July 1, 2020 have a 3 or 4-star rating in the QRIS (Parent Aware).
In the Senate, early learning scholarship eligibility. The childcare provider “MUST”:
(1) participate in the QRIS (quality rating improvement system) [ie. Parent Aware]
(2) beginning in July 1, 2021 have a 3 to 4-star rating in the QRIS (Parent Aware)
Take-away #1: Both chambers move to make Parent Aware a requirement by 2020 in the House or 2021 in the Senate.  These timelines will be conferenced.
Take-away #2: Any federal or state government program has the power to change policy and regulation at will.  What requirements are mandated today may not be the requirements of tomorrow.  For this reason, MACC would encourage the legislature to not take over various industries or professions.
GREAT START FUND √
The Great Start Fund was purposed for setting up a early learning scholarship fund in the original HF 1.
Subd. 16 (in both House and Senate)
(a) account established in special revenue fund known as “early learning scholarship account.”
(b) Funds appropriated for early scholarships (MUST -House) (SHALL-Senate) be transferred to early learning scholarship account in special revenue fund.
(c) Money in account annually appropriated to commissioner for early learning scholarships. Any returned funds are available to be granted.
(d) $950,000 annually appropriated to commissioner for administering and monitoring early learning scholarships.  [This amount is in addition to the early learning scholarships themselves.)
Home Visits √
The entirety of HF 1, Article 2, Home Visits is embedded into the House Omnibus.  Though Senator Relph chief authored SF 1438: Home Visits for Pregnant Women and Young Children et all. (co-authored by Senators Eichorn and Abeler), that bill was never picked up in the Senate.  SF 1438 was an exact replica to HF 1.  This may be due mostly to your good calls!!  However, this situation will be conferenced.
Funding/appropriations are very, very important in the home visit area.  Home visits are already part of state statute and the House made it clear that home visits would be greatly expanded.  Contacts within the MDE stated that Help Me Grow home visit referral system is set to expand throughout the state.  So, the machine has been built behind the scenes and is ready for implementation.  All we really need in this area is a lot of funding!
400% of Federal Poverty Income Level for CCAP ⊗
300% of Federal Poverty Income Level for Early Learning Scholarships ?
The 400% figure did not fly! That’s over $100,000 annual income for a family of 4!  Take-away:  The House wished to place a large percentage of the population on assistance through free childcare from the CCAP program.  This figure stands at 185% as in the prior year in both chambers.
We’ve not seen the exact percentage with the Early Learning Scholarships but we do know that they have been expanded in both House and Senate.
Greater Minnesota Facilities Grant _√
The Greater Minnesota Facilities Grant program is found in both House and Senate Jobs Omnibus bill.
We’ll report once we’ve studied the conference committee conclusions.  However you look at it, the Omnibus bill system is a legislative free-for-all because rarely do constituents know which legislator authored any particular bill.  Secondarily, it is impossible for legislators to keep up with each Omnibus and each new bill or amended/repealed section and how that effects a statute.
In the end, our children are worth a lot more than trading horses for party pet projects.

Minnesota Parent Aware: Rigging the Early Learning Market – Redesign or Shut it Down!

Little Girl in ClassroomMinnesota Parent Aware: Rigging the Early Learning Market – Redesign or Shut it Down!

May 1, 2019

Linda Bell

It’s now apparent that Minnesota’s Parent Aware system is not the true measure of quality ratings that our Legislature and Agencies have purported it to be.  In fact, government records show that the Parent Aware System was utilized for the purpose of setting up a monopoly for public schools, head starts and corporate chain centers.

Several years ago, Minnesota “won” the federal lottery grant for babies and toddlers. Parent Aware is part of a federal idea gone wrong. According to the Early Learning Council, a governor-appointed group:

“In 2011, Minnesota was one of nine states awarded a federal Race to the Top -Early Learning Challenge Grant (RTT-ELC). This $45 million award for 2012-2016 is designed to improve early learning and development opportunities for Minnesota’s children.”

You might remember that the Common Core was specifically tied to the Race to the Top grant, and thus, Minnesota has been busy building the Baby Common Core!

Three main projects were covered in the grant.

—–Align and Set up a systematic program state-wide

—–Parent Aware and

—–Early Learning Scholarships

Both are foundational to House File 1.

Prior to the Race to the Top grant, a Metro group of businessmen, Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, gathered $20M dollars to start a pilot program, Parent Aware for School Readiness. This was the beginning of a business plan for the Parent Aware experiment. This was not “for the children”, it was a business plan. By 2012, this pilot, Parent Aware, was utilized as the quality measurement for federal accountability for the Early Learning Challenge.

What’s been going on since 2012?  The Agencies and Legislature, through the Race to the Top grant, started Accelerated Pathways to Ratings.  It was decided that public schools, Title 1 schools, Head Starts and the corporate chain centers would have the fast-track on 3 or 4-star ratings statewide in 2012.  Just like that!  Boom! This grouping would receive 3 to 4 stars right away, which are the highest ratings.

(B)(2) Goal 1: Expand availability of accelerated ratings for accredited, Title 1 Head Start and school-based programs statewide in 2012. 

1.1: recruit targeted programs to participate in Accelerated Pathways to Rating.

1.2: provide supports as incentives for these programs to participate in Accelerated Pathways to Ratings.       

(Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge, pg. 602)

Meanwhile, it was written into the grant that licensed home-based and small center providers would enter the slow-track of ratings starting in 2012 and the accelerated track would not fully be available statewide to these providers until 2015.   The government purposely pushed off this group from competing fully in the workplace through a slower path to ratings.

(B)(2) Goal 2: Expand the availability of the full rating for licensed center-based and licensed family child care programs incrementally starting in 2012, with statewide availability in 2015.

            1.1: recruit targeted programs to participate in the full rating option

1.2: provide supports as incentives for programs Children with High Need to participate in the full rating option

MACC has published testimony and personal stories of providers and how DHS purposely targeted those in home-based and small centers.  Between the rigged Parent Aware system and DHS targeting, home-based and small center provider numbers have been decimated.

To this day, public schools, head starts and corporate chain centers receive automatic and continuous 4 star Parent Aware ratings even when there is reported maltreatment. Maltreatment records may be viewed at the Dept. of Human Services website.

Statistics regarding childcare in Minnesota in 2012* and 2017**.

Type of Provider                    2012*                                             2017**

Home-based providers          11,000                                              7,800

Chain centers                           1,600                                              1,779

Public schools                             334                                              TBA

Head Starts                                   34                                                 134

*Data from Early Learning Council, 2013 report.

**Data from MDE.  Not all data available on public schools.

Now what about the Parent Aware ratings?

Both the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation’s and national evaluators admit that there is no way to know if quality rating systems improve child outcomes or program quality.  (See Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems)

“The design does not permit us to determine if Parent Aware causes outcomes for programs, parents, or children. We can look at patterns of associations, but causation cannot be determined.” (Parent Aware Third Year Review, MELF, November 2010, PowerPoint, p. 9)

Regarding implementation, according to the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation Review,

“Two-thirds of programs received automatic 4-star ratings.” (MELF, Year 3 Evaluation, p. 130,  [2/3 of the programs are getting a free pass].

 

According to a Legislative Audit in April 2018, the Office of Legislative Auditor office stated “You cannot prove the 4 star rated programs are any better than others. They do not prove quality.”  And additionally, “There are no checks and balances for any of the child care funding streams in Minnesota.”

The Parent Aware Star rating system was apparently contrived for some other reason than determining a quality program and so “misses the mark” for assisting families in what is good or not good daycare.

MACC further questions this system:

  1. For what reason was Parent Aware truly put into place if the program is not measured with any specificity and ratings are automatic 4 stars if you’re a public school, head start or big chain center? Are the scholarships related to our state Human Capital Bonds or HuCAPs?
  2. Parent Aware was evidently set up to remove competition in the early care and education market to specifically increase baby and toddler programs in schools and chain centers and, thus, push out small business providers. This sounds an awful like an Anti-Trust Violation case! How long did our Legislators think this monopoly would go unnoticed?
  3. How do these higher ratings benefit the schools, head starts and big chain centers? Recall that Early Learning Challenge was for 2 primary reasons: Parent Aware accountability system and Early Learning Scholarships. Based on the higher rating, this group receives the extra benefit of applying for Early Learning Scholarships in addition to CCAP money.  (Please see the video posted on the MACC page if you haven’t!)

Note exactly how many millions of dollars are going into the schools, head starts and chain centers annually with absolutely no accountability as to how those funds must be spent.  DHS has a guideline that these “maximized funds” must be spent on staff and curriculum, but there is no accountability, checking on receipts, nada! This is a huge amount of wasted taxpayer dollars and we have no way of knowing if the kids and families are receiving all of the monies intended.  How many millions in unused Early Learning Scholarship monies are being sent back to the providers without any accountability?

One of the foundational lynch pins of House File 1 is Parent Aware, the “federal” accountability system that has rigged the early learning market.  MACC’s hope is that House File 1 does not pass by any measure.  But we have to understand the faulty foundation. It is time to scrap the Parent Aware system for a redesign or shut it down altogether. It’s time to unleash competition back into the early learning markets once again! Parents will quickly figure out which childcare providers are the best fit for them without government holding their hands.