Feb 20, 2017
ELW

The National Pulse: Will Trump and DeVos Protect Preschoolers from Transgender Ideologues?

Now that the presidential election is over, American Principles Project has revamped its important political blog, changing its name from The Pulse 2016 to the National Pulse. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem’s first article for that new effort: 

In good news this week for student privacy and safety, the Trump administration announced it would be dropping objections raised by the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) to a nationwide injunction from a Texas judge against transgender student access to bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to gender identity instead of biological sex. Oral arguments were to have begun this past week in the case, the first time federal courts have been asked to review whether laws prohibiting sex discrimination also apply to gender identity, a subjective and changeable construct. A preponderance of research shows that most gender confused youth return to identifying as their biological sex by adolescence or early adulthood.

The move by Trump was widely cheered by groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who said:

This is good news for the privacy, safety, and dignity of young students across America. The Obama Administration radically distorted a federal law that was intended to equalize educational opportunities for women and misused the law to place members of the opposite sex into students’ private facilities. Today, the Trump Administration took the first steps to end that error.

While a number of other cases involving this issue are still pending across the country, including G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board which is set to be heard by the Supreme Court next month, this is not the only way in which transgender ideology has begun to intrude upon schools. Lesser known, but perhaps more troubling, is the move towards federal social emotional standards, especially those for children as young as preschool age.

The Head Start Performance Standards, recently approved at the end of the Obama administration, require the Head Start Child Outcome Framework and include completely inappropriate “Baby Common Core”–style standards. These contain a whole section of social emotional learning standards, including one on gender identity affecting 3-5 year old children:

Read the full article HERE.

Feb 12, 2017
ELW

ELW Referenced in Pre-K Letter to Sen. Isakson by GA Attorney

 

 

As we reported, there were many issues brought up during the Senate confirmation hearing of now Secretary Betsy DeVos that were alarming and disappointing to grassroots parents seeking to protect their children from ever-increasing federal overreach.  One very important of those issues is government funded and controlled preschool. Here is what we said:

Preschool – Senator Isakson (R-GA) made the following very alarming statement during the hearing (1:02:55):

“She [Senator Murray] talked about her goal and my goal which we’ve shared with each other, that is to work toward requiring 4 year old prekindergarten for every student in the country…” (Emphasis added).

Thankfully DeVos demurred with her standard, “If confirmed, I look forward to working with you on…” statement. However, given how ineffective, harmful, invasive and expensive these programs are, including in Georgia, expanding preschool like this would be a “disaster” of Trumpian proportions.

Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos did not demure on the issue in her written responses to Senator Murray:

Murray Question 30. Research shows that at-risk children who participate in high-quality preschool programs are dramatically less likely to be retained in school, be placed in special education classes, drop out of high school, or depend on public benefits when they are adults. What will you do to help states expand high-quality, affordable early childhood education programs?

DEVOS ANSWER: Early childhood education is important. This is why it is exciting to see so many states invest in and support early education programs for families. If confirmed, I look forward to working with state and local leaders to support their efforts to provide early childhood education. As you know, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) included the authorization of Preschool Development Grants to help states improve the services they are providing. If confirmed, I will work with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to confirm the efficiency and effectiveness of all early childhood education programs and initiatives. (Emphasis added).

Attorney Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project, writing an open letter opinion piece to her home senator,  was also alarmed at Senator Isakson’s questioning during the hearing and the philosophy behind it:

In questioning U.S. Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos at her Senate hearing recently, Sen. Johnny Isakson adopted this children-as-widgets world view. Did Georgians who voted to re-elect the Senator in November realize they endorsed an ally of the statist progressive-education establishment?

There are numerous problems with the idea that education should be designed for workforce development. First, the practical problems – how does the government predict what jobs will exist and what skills they’ll require when students graduate? How does the government determine which students will be interested in which jobs and therefore will need what type of training, especially since many students don’t decide on a career until early adulthood? (Georgia seeks to solve that problem by nudging students toward a “career pathway” as early as grade 6, an approach of self-evident madness.)

Progressive statists also argue that the 21st century changes everything, that it’s now insufficient to give students the classical education – great literature, mathematics, history, science, art – that schools used to offer. But if that education was so deficient, how did men and women who received it go on to establish empires, create breathtaking works of art, generate untold societal wealth, and land on the moon? A student trained for a particular type of job will flounder if he heads in a different direction; a student with a genuine education will be equipped to take on anything.

More profoundly, the workforce-development model ignores that students are human beings, not cogs in a machine. It is, as Professor Anthony Esolen says, “a vision which is strictly utilitarian, man with the soul amputated.” But this is what Common Core and workforce-developers have imposed.

Mrs. Robbins also clearly understands both the ineffectiveness and harm of these programs, as well as the lack of Constitutional authority for them:

It wasn’t clear if he meant requiring toddlers to be sent to preschool, or requiring states to offer such “early learning” to parents who want it.

But either interpretation is troubling. If the former, Isakson clearly isn’t familiar with the studies showing the ineffectiveness of or even harm done by taking little ones from their parents for hours every day. (Yes, some studies suggest otherwise, but experts such as pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem have demonstrated why their conclusions are flawed. And even if the evidence is mixed, parents have the right to protect their children from any system that may not be in their best interests.) And if he merely meant the federal government should require states to offer preschool to willing participants, where is the federal authority to do that? The Constitution gives the federal government no role – none – in education policy, so Isakson’s suggestion that states should be “required” to do anything is anti-constitutional and therefore anti-conservative.

 

Preschool is seen by the nanny statists as a prime opportunity to begin the indoctrination process with social emotional learning such as teaching three year olds about gender identity.  This subjective and highly sensitive data is then put into a life-long data dossier that employers hope to be able to view to determine whether little Johnny and Susie are on their way to becoming the corporate cogs or “products” as described by our newly sworn in Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and so well explained by Jane Robbins.

 This is yet another critical area where parents will have to clearly and loudly state that to protect the hearts and minds of their children and their own autonomy as parents, they reject the dangerous phrase: “We are from the government and are here to help”!

Feb 12, 2017
ELW

ELW Written Testimony for the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

 

 

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) held its third public hearing on February 9th. This is the organization put into place after President Obama signed a bill authored by Speaker Paul Ryan. CEP is hearing testimony and being urged to recommend lifting the prohibition on a student-unit record system and other issues in order to make longitudinal data on individual American citizens more accessible to government agencies and researchers. Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project previously testified about the dangers of this idea.

All of the written and audio information from that hearing is available HERE. Dr. Effrem’s written testimony is available on that page at this link.

After covering the lack of constitutionality, the dangers inherent in the strong likelihood that subjective social emotional data will be added, the already  large amount of evidence that government education programs are very ineffective, and that data security in the US Department of Education is very weak, these were her recommendations:

1. Retain the prohibition of a student unit-record system.

2. Strongly consider a moratorium on further federal research until programs already shown to be ineffective and harmful are transformed or eliminated and until effective measures are actually implemented.

3. Prohibit social emotional data-gathering and the use of data for predictive testing in the FERPA and Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) reauthorizations.

4. Put in strict data-transparency language and update the data-security language per the recommendations of technical experts like Dr. Joel Reidenberg or Barmak Nassirian in any FERPA reauthorization.

5. Require third-party software and testing vendors to notify parents of what data is collected on students and how it is used.

6. Find a way for students whose identity and privacy is compromised to be compensated, in addition to penalizing researchers or private vendors that breach data-security.

7. Close the curriculum and assessment loophole for invasive surveys in the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.

8. Demand that the US Department of Education immediately repair the federal data-security failures found in the Inspector General’s recent report and uncovered by the House Oversight Committee.

It will be important to monitor the recommendations of this commission to Congress and to speak out against any suggestions harmful to citizen, and especially student, data and psychological privacy. Stay tuned.

Feb 11, 2017
ELW

Urgent! Submit Comments Against Global Pre-K SEL Data Mining

 

Please submit comments before MIDNIGHT, MONDAY 2/13 opposing this latest global taxpayer funded psychological data mining scheme of our youngest children for invasive, ineffective, and harmful government pre-K programs at the federal register. It can be as short as:

I oppose this latest study because there are already dozens of studies showing that preschool is minimally effective, that beneficial effects fade with time or is academically and emotionally harmful. Social emotional assessment, especially for young children, is extraordinarily subjective and unreliable, violates parental autonomy, and the private right of conscience of free American citizens. This is especially true when data security within the U.S. Department of Education is so poor.

You can also do something more in depth. Here are details:

The federal government is joining with the globalists at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in a new study that seeks to expand social emotional data gathering (psychological profiling) on our very youngest children, collect sensitive family information and try yet again to show that preschool is effective when there are so many studies to the contrary. Here is the pertinent language from the federal register notice:

FR Doc No: 2016-29749
Abstract: The International Early Learning Study (IELS), scheduled to be conducted in 2018, is a new study sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. In the United States, the IELS is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The IELS focuses on young children and their cognitive and non-cognitive skills and competencies as they transition to primary school. The IELS is designed to examine: children’s early learning and development in a broad range of domains, including social emotional skills as well as cognitive skills; the relationship between children’s early learning and children’s participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC); the role of contextual factors, including children’s individual characteristics and their home backgrounds and experiences, in promoting young children’s growth and development; and how early learning varies across and within countries prior to beginning primary school. In 2018, in the participating countries, including the United States, the IELS will assess nationally-representative samples of children ages 5.0-5.5 years (in kindergarten in the United States) through direct and indirect measures, and will collect contextual data about their home learning environments, ECEC histories, and demographic characteristics.

We have warned for years of the dangers and ineffectiveness of both government preschool programs and the indoctrination and profiling inherent in social emotional learning. This study combines the worst of both. Here is our bullet list of why this study should be opposed:

1) According to this compilation of over two dozen studies, there is already plenty of evidence that, at best, preschool is only minimally effective and there is significant evidence that these programs cause academic and emotional harm.

2) With so much evidence of ineffectiveness and harm, there is no reason to embark on yet another study at taxpayer expense.

3) This data gathering is unconstitutional – There is no constitutional, statutory or moral authority for the federal government to create standards and norms for the attitudes, values and beliefs, for innocent American citizens, conduct psychological research on them and to keep this data in perpetuity in federally mandated state longitudinal databases that according to this proposal are going to be shared with a large international agency with unknown data privacy protection standards.

4) It goes against several Supreme Court precedents affirming parent’s inherent rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

5) These types of standards and questions are highly subjective, especially when used for young children, as admitted by leading experts and organizations in the fields of education and mental health.

6) Overworked, untrained teachers essentially become psychotherapists to their classrooms of patients.

7) There is a clear link to Common Core and potential for both indoctrination and danger to student and family freedom of conscience covering such controversial topics as climate change, Buddhist mindfulness techniques, social justice, transgenderism and the LGBT agenda.

8) Because of the weak and gutted federal privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), this very sensitive data can be shared with various agencies of the federal government and third parties and re-disclosed and used for “predictive tests,” which are notoriously subjective and inaccurate. Data may then well be used to make life altering decisions for children affecting college entrance, employment, etc.

9) According to information uncovered by the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings, the state of data security at the US Department of Education is appallingly bad, so this sensitive data, that the government should not have in the first place, is not safe from hackers. We have no idea what the data protection situation is at OECD.

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