Providing a nonpartisan model for generating and sharing          

    essential information on public issues and proposed solutions              

Shining a light on Minnesota public policy since 2005

                                                                                                  About Civic Caucus   l   Interviews & Responses  l   Position Reports   l   Contact Us   l   Home  

 Response Page - Davis  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Laurie Davis Interview of

The Questions:

On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how you rate the following options for financing early childhood (pre-K) learning:  

1.  5.0 average response  Make tax credits available to early childhood providers who agree to be rated for effectiveness.

2. 5.2 average response  Make tax credits available to early childhood providers who offer scholarships to low income children.

3.  2.9 average response  Instead of tax credits for providers, fold early childhood learning into the publicly-funded K-12 system.

4.  6.6 average response  It is urgent for the 2011 Legislature take action on early childhood learning.

5. Comment:

Carl Scheider  (0)  (0)  (10)  (8)

The tax code is a nightmare and a very indirect subsidy.  Let's move "free" education down and up as well.  Most civilized countries have it on both ends - why not us.

Chris Stedman  (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)

Public Education has shown an inability to effectively keep up with the changing education environment. If we provide the appropriate incentives (tax breaks) for the desired outcomes, we would typically expect to see better results. Any Education provider, Government Program or service should be rated for effectiveness. To not do this is to take tax dollars and effectively throw them away.     Thanks!

Sheila Kiscaden   (6)  (6)  (0)  (10)

I think that you should also hear from others who are working on early childhood agendas...not just MELF.  They have one perspective, but there are others.

Don Fraser   (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

These choices are all good in the abstract - they are not necessarily consistent with each other.   Much depends upon the context for each choice.  In some areas public preschool may be the only workable choice.  Also the concept of the early education

combined with early primary grades (preK-3)- a concept endorsed by the National Association of Elementary Principals – deserves consideration..  This subject needs a more robust exploration - though I thought the speaker did a good job.

Ray Cox   (10)  (5)  (0)  (5)

Terry Stone  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

Government funding needs to stay out of the child-rearing business. Parents need to take responsibility for raising their children. Including pre-K funding in a K-12 system that is undergoing massive systemic disruption seems intuitively ill-grounded. Mitigation of cultural shortcomings in parental ability to raise their children should be done at the most local level possible.  The taxpayers will never provide education money without strings attached; accountability means strings attached. Those strings must be as local as possible.

Ms. Davis seems to accommodate a lot of bureaucracy, complexity and expense for the simple process of disseminating information to parents. Rating systems for providers are a slippery slope that seems loaded with the potential for social planners to interject their unique version of reality into our education system at a vulnerable point.

MELF's self-serving return-on-investment claims do not pass the straight face test.

Giving tax credits directly to providers seem to presume that the parents are incompetent consumers who are inadequately prepared to participate in a free market economy; a dubious presumption.

It's troubling to hear older people referred to as a source of cheap labor.

Fred Senn   (10)  (5)  (1)  (5)

Full disclosure: I'm on the executive committee of Minnesota Business for Early Learning.  Art is on our board.  I think MELF is on the right track.  We are working with them. But it's not just about kids at risk.  Half of MN 5 year-olds are not ready for kindergarten.  As Laurie points out that means a lot of middle class working parents need a nudge.  That's what we are trying to do.

Peter Hennessey   (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

Early childhood education is terribly overrated and misapplied. The plain fact is, children grow and mature at vastly different rates in their early years. I made the huge mistake of starting my two boys in school at age three. The pain of separation at that early age was very traumatic for both of them. We were both working and I was stupid and listened to stupid advice; oh, they will stop crying for you in a day or two. No way, it took two weeks or more. After 20 years, they both still talk about it. There is a reason babies are born to mothers and why mothers are pre-wired to taking care of them. They can’t do that if the child is in an institution such as pre-school, where parent participation is "disruptive" and therefore forbidden...

Earlier generations started school at age 9 or 10, and even in today's schools there is no proof that children are at a disadvantage if they start later. At the right age, very much dependent on the individual child, the brain reaches the right level of maturity and learning takes off like wildfire.

Instead of advocating ways to take mothers away from motherhood and force them or "facilitate" them into the away-from-home workforce, we should instead find a way to bring back the good old days when one income was sufficient to support a family, and the mother really did have a choice about staying home or going to work. But we use the schools as a babysitting service to let her go away to work the whole day. This is wrong on all levels, including biological and psychological, for every member of the family.

Charles & Hertha Lutz   (8)  (8)  (5)  (9)

Arvonne Fraser   (3)  (3)  (10)  (8)

With parents employed we have to rethink schooling as child-care along with education.  The idea that in the 21st century we still have school based on the agricultural calendar is silly.  Educating children is comparable to the R&D within business and the scientific community.  We are all responsible--not just parents--for the education, care and health of the upcoming generation of citizens and workers and ought to understand that.  Blaming or putting all the responsibility--including financial--of early childhood on parents is not fair.

Wayne Jennings   (8)  (8)  (4)  (10)

I didn’t get a sense of what they base rating on. It could be facilities; it could be trained staff; it could be learning philosophies (phonics vs. experiential, etc) or all of these.

Clarence Shallbetter   (7)  (9)  (0)  (7)

Interesting presentation. Suggest the state put some funds in 2011-12 into continuing the demonstration with an emphasis on the pre-school children from low-income single parent families. It would be interesting to learn more about "Parent Aware” and what goes into qualifying providers to receive the proposed tax credits.

Thomas Wright   (0)  (0)  (5)  (10)

 Early Childhood Education should be coupled with municipal daycare or private daycare vouchers, where the daycare providers have at least a 2-year trade school degree.  To those families that are indigent daycare would be free.  Fees would be charged to all others on a graduated scale based on ability to pay.

Donald Anderson   (0)  (0)  (10)  (10)

Early childhood, especially pre-Kindergarten age, should be a part of the regular K-12 system, or at least privately funded programs as education in the K-12 systems.

Mike Weber   (7.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

1.  Rating providers.  Before providers could expect to be rated there must be an incentive based system of educating and updating providers on best practice child services.

Anonymous   (0)  (7.5)  (0)  (0)

Anonymous      (5)  (5)  (0)  (0)

Tim Utz   (0)  (5)  (0)  (10)

1.  Rating providers.  The discussion appears centered around the need for government provided management. As stated in the report early childhood government programs (irrelevant of the 300 programs) have failed over the last 50 years. I failed to read how revision of an existing program, or this pilot program changes foundational misconception that government has a solution to parenting. Any time government is providing money regulation is included, thus restricting flexibility.

2.  Scholarships.  Targeted tax credits assume government has ownership of income, and thus picks winners and losers of government generosity, by allowing wealth to be kept. If the system is targeting low-income families for services, and they have no income or other taxing liability, where do the tax credits for providers come from. I think I am missing a part of the conversation.

3.  K-12.  With the incredible train wreck of public education (from my perspective), whose only constitutional mandate is to educate our children to preserve our Republic, why would anyone ever consider compounding the existing K-12 monster?

4.  Legislature.  I do not have the time or space to address this topic fully; that said, to effectively make any early childhood education work, the assumption of authority of children needs to change. The state does not own, have authority over, an obligation to, or preemptive responsibility for children, the parents do. Both Mom and Dad. Churches, family, community (not government), are responsible assisting in helping parents raise their kids. Some will say I am nuts, or these groups fail to meet the need. Today's Civic Caucus admitted failure also. I chose non government over family.

Ray Schmitz   (2.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

1.  Rating providers.  Seems as if the compensation system should reward this rather than getting another social engineers issue in the tax code

2.  Scholarships.  Again why part of the tax code, lets keep the system clean.

3.  K-12.  I am concerned that this would result in the administration being with local school boards, which I regard as anachronistic.

4.  Legislature.  I suspect that asking this is so unlikely that it should not be part of the discussion.  Why not set standards within the private sector and raise funds to publicize them.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm   (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

1.  Rating providers.  Early childhood education needs to be returned to the family and community with government to stay out of it. Government’s involvement is only resulting in the push for the addiction of more and more of our young children to behavior modification drugs. It is time the education establishment recognizes and supports the parent as primary educator of their children and builds on that power base.

2.  Scholarships.  Any government involvement under present legislation is about forced addiction of children, not about the child’s best interest

3.  K-12.  Absolutely not, the present system now allows for the pushing of behavior modification drugs on children as young as 3 years old, (legislation passed 2 years ago). The present K-12 education system is not designed around what is best for children but rather what is best for teachers and industry. Return our education system to local control and hold teachers and doctors liable for all misdiagnosed children.

4.  Legislature.  They need to support parents and local control on this issue not the education establishment that has been out of touch for over 30 years.

Bob White   (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)  (10)

Mina Harrigan   (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

Rich Gehrman   (2.5)  (2.5)  (5)  (10)

2.  Scholarships.  If the tax credits are tied closely enough to scholarships and the value is sufficient.

4.  Legislature.  Yes, if state action means state leadership and funding.

Steve Park   (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)

Robert Freeman   (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)  (5)

3.  K-12.  Perhaps if there was some confidence it would be properly and fairly funded based on merit.

4.  Legislature.  The 2011 legislature possesses neither the funds nor the will to do so.   It can barely keep the existing K-12 education afloat.  The private sector will have to provide the resources for this to become a reality.

John Sievert   (0)  (5)  (2.5)  (5)

1.  Rating providers.  Most effectiveness ratings for students in general (i.e. MCA testing) are not reflective of the school or teacher performance.  It needs to be based on an evaluation of the student's potential and the participation of the student's family.  Otherwise, it is punitive and no incentive to the teacher/school when the factors that influence performance are out of their control.  For example, parental involvement is the single largest predictor of academic success.  The student may be brilliant and capable but if the parents are not engaged, no amount of teaching or school performance is going to make it work.  I would be happy to talk further with anyone on this issue.  I'm quite knowledgeable on incentive systems and pay plans, standardized testing, NCLB, and accountability measures in schools.

2.  Scholarships.  Early childhood is part of the MN Ed funding.

3.  K-12.  There is a system of preschools that do well. This question is not that simple.

4.  Legislature.  I think it is much more urgent for the legislature to address issues in K-12 funding for sure (restore it to appropriate levels) and to deal with the erosion of funding in post-K (i.e. MNSCU, UM system) funding.  We cannot afford to let our university system be at risk.  It is a huge economic engine in the region.

Shirley Kyle Heaton  (10)  (10)  (0)  (0)

What about Foundation Grants as a funding source? Also, I hate to put a damper on this program, which looks great on paper but hazy in practice. As a Community Relations Expert I found it difficult to 'deal' with low-incomers [because] they tend to be sheep who rely on the "Community Broker" for guidance -- the latter insisting he/she will not participate until it is determined the 'What's In It For Me' syndrome; hence, my disagreement on the haste to proceed with the Legislature. Finally, the public/private partnership needs to be explored thoroughly. It can work (I've been involved in similar situations) as long as the public sector understands its role and there is someone available to govern the 'ground rules with an iron hand' (which is why I wound up in Washington, D.C.)

Nancy Jost   (5)  (2.5)  (10)  (10)

1.  Rating providers.  I don't think this will have much impact.

2.  Scholarships.  Early childhood providers don't make enough money to do this.

4.  Legislature.  I couldn't agree more.

Richard Angevine   (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

contact webmaster



Hit Counter