March 21, 2007

Senate File 274 and House File 302: Early Childhood Community Hubs

Senate File 274: Senators Tom Saxhaug (DFL), Tarryl L. Clark (DFL), LeRoy A. Stumpf (DFL), Claire A. Robling (R), and Sandy Rummel (DFL)

House File 302: Representatives Sandra Peterson (DFL), Nora Slawik (DFL), Mindy Greiling (DFL), David Bly (DFL), Augustine “Willie” Dominguez (DFL), Terry Morrow (DFL), John Benson (DFL), Maria Ruud (DFL), Karen Clark (DFL), Phyllis Kahn (DFL), Lynn Wardlow (R), Steve Simon (DFL), John Ward (DFL), Debra Hilstrom (DFL), and Tom Tillberry (DFL)

Senate File 274 and House File 302 authorize grants to establish programs that will increase children’s school readiness. Among other things, the bill encourages school districts to assess 100% of pre-kindergarten children for school readiness by the year 2012.

1/15/2007(Senate) S.F. 274: Introduction and first reading
1/25/2007(Senate) S.F. 274: Referred to Finance Committee
1/25/2007(House) H.F. 302: Introduction and first reading
1/25/2007(House) H.F. 302: Referred to E-12 Education Committee
1/29/2007(House) H.F. 302: Authors added—Dominguez, Morrow, Benson, Ruud, Clark, Kahn, Wardlow, and Simon
2/1/2007(House) H.F. 302: Authors added—Ward and Hilstrom
3/1/2007(House) H.F. 302: Committee report, to pass as amended and re-refer to Finance Committee
3/1/2007(House) H.F. 302: Author stricken—Demmer
3/1/2007(House) H.F. 302: Author added—Tillberry
3/1/2007(House) H.F. 302: Referred by Chair to Education Finance and Economic Competitiveness Finance Division
3/5/2007(House) H.F. 302: Referred by Chair to Early Childhood Learning Finance Division

HSLDA’s Position:

This bill, if passed, could provide the groundwork for passage of mandatory kindergarten legislation, which would, in effect, lower the compulsory age of attendance. It would also create an incentive for school districts to conduct intrusive census activities to determine the number and academic abilities of pre-kindergarten-aged children in each district. Proponents of the bill believe that these government-funded programs benefit children by providing them with the option of beginning their education earlier than the compulsory attendance law requires. However, studies show that these types of programs are more costly and less beneficial than the bill’s supporters would have you believe. There are several reasons to oppose lowering the compulsory attendance age, including:

  1. The possibility of burnout and poor scholastic performance later in life due to a child beginning his or her formal education too early (something many education experts verify);
  2. Subjection of homeschoolers to the reporting requirements of Minnesota’s home education statute for additional years (you do not need to share this reason with your legislators);
  3. Erosion of parental authority: Parents are in the best position to determine when their child’s formal education should begin;
  4. Inevitable tax increases to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California increased the upper age limit of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems—all at the expense of the taxpayer; and
  5. Unwanted governmental intrusion: By tying funding to the number of eligible kindergarten-age students in a district, the law would encourage school districts to conduct aggressive and intrusive census activities to maximize their funding potential.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

 Other Resources

S.F. 274 Bill Text

S.F. 274 Bill History

H.F. 302 Bill Text

H.F. 302 Bill History