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Minnesota Lawmaker Proposes Eradicating Funding for Early Childhood Education

The societal impacts and benefits of early childhood education have been widely acknowledged.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski speaks in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 23, 2019.

A far right Minnesota state legislator, upset with increases in state funding for early childhood education, has called for the complete eradication of a legislative committee tasked with creating and funding programs meant to give children in the state access to such learning.

Republican State Rep. Steve Drazkowski decried increases in publicly funded early childhood education while speaking on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives this week. His approach to child-rearing is short-sighted, as he didn’t appear to address in his comments how parents would manage to be able to raise their children without help from the government, which provides a vast amount of funding for child care in the state.

“We should get rid of the early childhood committee,” Drazkowski said while lamenting the funding increases during a debate on an omnibus spending bill. “We should let parents raise their kids until they’re five at least, before the government comes with a school bus, backs it up to the maternity ward room door and takes them to the government school.”

It’s unclear what the GOP lawmaker was referring to. There are programs in Minnesota that provide assistance for children to begin early learning and preschool programs as early as three years old. However, Drazkowski’s statement mirrors language from other Republicans who have been attempting to defund public education.

Twitter users were quick to point out that it would likely fall on women to take up the role as sole caregivers to children should Drazkowski’s radical idea be actually implemented, and that families with smaller incomes would be harmed the most by such a draconian policy.

“How long before women are banned from the workforce?” asked one user.

“Oh, so more women out of the workforce. This is the @GOP’s goal,” opined another user on the platform.

“This would hurt low income families the most,” yet another user pointed out.

Despite Drazkowski’s complaints about early education – and his errant belief that a “government school” is a corrupting influence on children – the benefits of early childhood education are widely acknowledged, even several years beyond when students take part in such learning. According to an analysis by Harvard in 2018, for instance, enrolling students in prekindergarten classes resulted in higher rates of high school graduation for those children later on, versus lower rates for those who did not take part.

Drazkowski is no stranger to attacking public schools, oftentimes employing false claims in order to justify his ire. Late last month, for example, Drazkowski was among a group of Republican lawmakers in the state who latched onto a debunked news story about children in a Michigan school district having their request for litter boxes approved because they identified as cats.

There is no truth to the story, but it was brought up, nonetheless, by Republican state lawmakers during a debate on the Minnesota House floor regarding the treatment of transgender students in public schools. While making hateful anti-trans statements in that same debate, Drazkowski complained about being called cisgender – even though he is indeed cisgendered – and took callous pleasure in claiming that his gender identity was, in his words, “the way God designed you.”

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