Letter to GOP Leadership: No Pre-K Expansion; Preserving the K-12 Mission

The Center sent the letter copied below  to GOP leaders Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and K-12 Education Finance Chairs Rep. Jenifer Loon and Sen. Carla Nelson, with copies to Education Policy Chairs Rep. Sondra Erickson and Sen. Eric Pratt. Actually, their titles are now E-12 Chair, as in “Early Learning” but we do not think that was a proper expansion of the state’s educational mission, and we are asking leadership to treat pre-K funding as welfare spending, and to strengthen the K-12 mission.

If you wish to contact them on this matter, you can find their contact information here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us


Dear Speaker Daudt, Majority Leader Gazelka and Education Finance Chairs Loon and Nelson,

Center of the American Experiment is opposed to any further expansion of Minnesota’s pre-K programs.

Child care options are shrinking because the Dayton administration has forced child care providers compete with “free” state programs, and imposed burdensome new regulations that do not enhance the quality of care. Thank you for addressing some of these regulatory issues this session.

As you know, Dayton’s attempt to unionize independent child care providers as “public employees” failed in 2016, and you can defeat the steady creep of state socialism, too.

If you do not act decisively, however, this battle will forever be lost to the leftist ideal of indoctrinating small children in state-run institutions. And encouraging parents look to our schools for “free prekindergarten” that is being marketed as “free child care.”

Under your leadership, the state can begin to reverse the Dayton legacy by providing tax relief for families so parents can afford to stay home with their young children, or to pay for quality private-sector solutions rather than turning to state-run centers at taxpayer expense. This is better for working parents and their small children.

The Center will ask you to consider shifting all pre-K dollars into a voucher-type program in the 2019 session for at-risk children that can be used primarily in private-sector settings, including at-home child care and church and charitable-based child care settings in conjunction with CCAP and other welfare funding. Taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize child care as a rule.

Minnesota can be generous with children and families who need a hand up without re-defining the K-12 mission. The OLA report pointed to many problems with the patchwork that is pre-K today; 2019 is a good time to begin to sort these issues out.

We have enclosed an op ed published in the Star Tribune last week: “Why are we in such a hurry for our little kids to grow up? Legislators should stand up to Gov. Dayton’s push for universal pre-K, aka ‘free child care,’ which is wasteful and misguided.”

The goal was to reach the millions of Minnesotans who do not know that the Dayton administration has continued its relentless demand for Minnesota to adopt universal Pre-K for all four-year-old’s, and children as young as three. The Pioneer Press had a good editorial on this, as well. We think voters are with you on this issue.

The Center understands that there is no danger the legislature will pass Dayton’s full “universal” pre-K this session but having watched the Governor for two terms, we worry about the one-way ratchet effect. Dayton knows he already has Minnesota on the slippery slope that will lead to universal pre-K.

School districts like Rochester are now invested in pre-k facilities and personnel; and parents begin to expect programming once it is offered. Part-time programs turn into breakfast at school, and all-day child care. Do we no longer expect parents to care for their small children and prepare them for Kindergarten? When did that become a wealth transfer from taxpayers to young parents?

Dayton is campaigning hard for $138 million “emergency” school funding but he might just settle for more pre-K funding instead. The governor has, in the past, successfully expanded pre-K programs in exchange for getting GOP K-12 education or other priorities passed.

We understand that, like children who do not get their way, Gov. Dayton holds his breath until he turns blue, but for the sake of our small children, and the K-12 mission, please deny him this final victory.

Thank you for your leadership,

Kim Crockett, Esq.

Vice President and Senior Policy Fellow