Nov 16, 2015


THIS IS AN ALL HANDS ON DECK RED ALERT! Congressional education leaders have reached a behind closed doors framework agreement on the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  According to Education Week, Congress is poised to ram this through quickly at the end of the year while people are distracted by the holidays and the presidential primaries:

Expect the conference to kick off next Tuesday night [TOMORROW 11/17and conclude by Thursday. And expect the bill to be on the floor of both chambers after Thanksgiving recessThat will give enough time for rank-and-file lawmakers to read it and make sure they understand what’s in it before they have to vote on it.

 It is CRITICAL, even with the holidays, primaries, terrorism, and other terrible news to inform your members of Congress, PARTICULARLY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES of what is in the bill and how dangerous it is for our children.  PLEASE CALL 202-224-3121 to make your voice heard! Here also are links to the contact information and social media directories for Congress:

Here is a short note that you can copy and paste or adapt into an email or message your members on Facebook.

Dear _______________
As a parent and citizen, I am outraged that congressional leadership has negotiated a compromise bill for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind in secret. This legislation has such enormous implications for the future of our children and the nation.  The available information about this compromise contains much disturbing news, especially since it appears to be based mostly on the Senate bill
False protection against federal interference in standards and curriculum The language in both bills is no different than the already violated statutes without enforcement mechanisms that gave us Race to the Top and Common Core in the first place.
A new nanny state/”Baby Common Core” preschool program Federal involvement in education is unconstitutional to begin with, but extending and expanding the invasive, harmful and manipulative Common Core philosophy and methodology to our youngest children is appalling. In addition, here is a new compilation of studies showing the ineffectiveness and harm of these programs.
21st Century Schools/Parent Replacement Centers These comprehensive womb to tomb, nearly 24/7 schools with school, health, mental health, and other invasive, non-academic programs that are outside of the constitutional authority of the federal government and have no great record of effectiveness.

No parental opt-out provision The one excellent piece of parental rights language in the House bill has been removed and the 95% test participation mandate remains.  This is unacceptable to me as a parent and will also continue forcing our teachers to teach to the test instead of meeting the individual needs of students.

Until the public is allowed to see the actual language, there are a number of other potential horrors like increased psychological profiling and continued control over state plans by the secretary of education that were in the Senate bill and could likely be in the agreement.  These, as well as details about what is listed above, are listed in the letter signed by over 200 organizations and experts in 46 states and are also depicted in this cartoon:

This conference report is completely unacceptable.  While much of the Common Core system with its associated tentacles was implemented via regulatory fiat without Congressional vote or oversight, a vote for this bill will be seen by me as your affirmation of all that is wrong with federal interference in education.  This system is harming students, teachers, school boards, states, and local districts. We need a bill signed by a president that understands and will follow the rule of law and will not participate in the destruction of public education, not a lame duck with an abysmal record of overreach and harm to teachers.

Please let me know your position as soon as possible.  Thank you for your service to this nation and to the families of our district.

In addition to your own representative and senators, it is very important to contact the full congressional leadership and the education leadership.  Here are some tweets that you can send yourself or go to the links and retweet or substitute the names of your own members:

For GOP Members:
@SpeakerRyan Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd

 Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd

 Listen to 200+ parent groups in 46 states!  Slay the beast! #StopESEA #EndFedEd
For Democrats:
@NancyPelosi ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers have to teach to invalid standards/test or leave students #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach

 ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers have to teach to invalid standards/test or leave students #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach
@repbobbyscott ESEA keeps fed testing mandates. Teachers forced to teach to invalid standards/test or leave kids #StopESEA #LetTeachersTeach

Thank you for all you are doing to protect the hearts and minds of our children!

Nov 16, 2015

Compilation & Analysis of Early Childhood Research Regarding Effect, Fade Out, Academic & Emotional Harm

Karen. R. Effrem, MD – President

The following compilation of early childhood studies paints a very different picture than the rosy portrait of significant and long lasting benefit put forth by proponents, especially of the new unconstitutional program being put forth in the conference proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  This list contains studies dating back to 1985 and is broken into four categories, with pertinent quotes from different studies being placed into multiple appropriate categories:

1) No or Small Effect  -  There are several studies that tout longer -term success compared to the usual fading out after the preschool year and even statistical significance over control groups of poor children.  However, when more closely examined, their benefits  are not practically significant, they may be explained by other factors like parent involvement, and these programs are too small, too specialized, and or too expensive to be brought to scale.

2) Fade Out – Many studies on this list, including the most recent one from Tennessee, show some improvement in the ephemeral concept of kindergarten readiness, but those benefits are gone by the time the program participant reaches kindergarten to third grade with problematic deterioration in academics an or behavior lasting longer than any perceived benefits.

3) Academic Harm – The quotes listed in this section depict evidence that children participating in these programs actually suffer academic deterioration in later grades, compared to their  peers not participating in these programs.

4) Emotional Harm – The studies in this section show evidence that participation in these programs results in deterioration in the very behaviors that  big government preschool proponents seek to impose on our youngest children.  The emotional distress suffered by children in these programs is likely a prime reason for the epidemic of psychiatric diagnosis and drugging with extremely dangerous and ineffective psychotropic drugs in these children.


Georgia (2015) – The completion of one only one year of baseline data by the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) called, Bright from the Start  caused them to enthusiastically proclaim that participants “progressed at an even greater rate during the time they participated in Georgia’s Pre-K Program than would be expected for normal development growth.” However, the next sentence clearly raises significant doubt: “However, without a comparison group, it is not possible to establish a clear causal link between outcomes and program participation.” (Emphasis added)

Chicago Parent-Child Centers (2011) - The study abstract claims, “Findings demonstrate support for the enduring effects of sustained school-based early education to the end of the third decade of life.” The study results were summarized by the Associated Press as follows:

“To be sure, the challenges facing the children in both groups were still insurmountable for many. As adults, the average annual income for those who went to preschool is less than $12,000 and almost half of them had been arrested as adults. As dismal as those outcomes [are], the numbers were still better than for the group that didn’t attend preschool.”

Our analysis reveals statistically significant, but not practically important differences that really need to be examined as to whether they are practically significant and worth the cost and government expansion of preschool programs (The first number is for the preschool CPC kids and the second number is for the comparison group):

Highest grade completed (12.15 vs. 11.88) – This is less than a third of one year difference or less than a semester.

Attendance in a 4-year college (14.7% vs. 11.2%) – This is only a 3.5% difference.

Average annual income in 2007 dollars ($11,582 vs. $10,796) – As noted in the AP story above, both groups, were earning less than $12,000 per year with the preschool group earning only $786 more.

The study admits, “No differences were detected for degree completion, employment, or a combined measure.”

Any arrest (47.9% vs. 54.3%) – Also pointed out in the AP story above, around half of both groups were arrested, though the preschool group was 6% lower.

The study also admits, “No differences were detected for the number of arrests, arrests for violence, or convictions. School-age and extended intervention were unrelated to justice involvement. For public aid and family outcomes, no meaningful differences were found.”

Head Start (2003) –  “Head Start is not fully achieving its stated purpose  of promoting school readiness … Indeed, these low-income children continue to perform significantly below their more advantaged peers in reading and mathematics once they enter school.”  – “Strengthening Head Start: What the Evidence Shows” – US Dept. of HHS, June 2003 

Chicago Parent-Child Centers (2001) – “It is possible that parental involvement explains more of the variance in outcome among inner-city children than do structured programs. . . . If policy makers mistakenly accept the conclusion that preschool intervention results in less criminal activity later, they may mistakenly invest in these programs when the money might be better invested in parenting skill programs and other interventions to increase parental involvement.” – Mathew D. Thompson, “Early Childhood Educational Intervention and Long-Term Developmental Outcomes,” Letters, The Journal of American Medical Association, Vol. 286, No. 15,

Abecedarian Project (1999 Review) - “For these children, a 4.6–point improvement was approximately a 5 percent increase in measured intelligence, an increase hardly noticeable in the classroom or on the job….In the Abecedarian Project, children in the preschool program had IQs 4 to 5 points higher than the children in the control group at ages 12 to 15.  Nonetheless, the early enrichment did not result in these children reaching IQ levels comparable to middle-class children in the community, nor did they reach the national average IQ of 100.” – John Bruer, president, James S. McDonnell Neurosciences Institute, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press, New York

Head Start (1997) – “The body of research on current Head Start is insufficient to draw conclusions about the impact of the national program.”– GAO review of over 600 citations, manuscripts, and studies

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Oct 13, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – National Coalition Opposes No Child Left Behind Rewrite Conference Bill

In a coast to coast effort, parent and citizen groups, resisting the national and federal takeover of standards, testing, curriculum, and student data collection via Race to the Top and Common Core standards, are loudly voicing their concerns and opposition to the conference committee report being written for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  This letter strongly urges suspension of work on this bill “until a new administration is elected that, we hope, will follow the rule of law and the Constitution regarding the proper federal role in education.” This request is being made because:

“…for a conference report to be acceptable to this President, given the administration’s dangerous record in so many aspects of the ESEA and related statutes and programs, the report would be completely unacceptable to us and our membership – the millions of families, students, and in many cases teachers, such as the majority of those surveyed from Tennessee that oppose implementation of Common Core, of this nation who are affected by these policies.”

It was sent to congressional education leaders responsible for crafting the bill – House Education Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Ranking Member Robert Scott (D-VA), Senate Education Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA)  and is signed by more than 180 different state and local groups, education activists or local and state officials in 45 states including more than 15 national organizations and activists in addition to state and local chapters of several other national organizations.

The thoroughly referenced letter lays out fatal flaws with both the House Student Success Act (HR 5) and the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) in extensive detail in the following areas, for all of which federal statutory or constitutional authority is extremely questionable or non-existent:

Federal Involvement in Standards Development
Federally Mandated Testing
Federal Curriculum
Student Data and Psychological Privacy
Full Service Community Schools & Safe, Healthy & Supportive Schools

“The overwhelming response to this effort to protect the hearts and minds of our children and rein in federal overreach is extremely gratifying,” said Karen R. Effrem, MD, president of Education Liberty Watch, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and one of the letter’s primary authors.  “The unconstitutional federal overreach in education that is so damaging to our children and our future as a nation needs to end now, and stopping this legislation is a critical first step.”

The letter concludes:

“We know that you are hearing from many well-financed and powerful special-interest groups demanding completion of this bill in this Congress, but please hear the voices of those who are the closest to these precious children.  Our children must not be trained to have arbitrarily determined “college and career ready” skills and be placed on paths chosen for them by government and corporate interests. The American public-education system must provide a well-rounded academic education to allow students to choose their future course and perpetuate the heritage of freedom that has made this nation the freest, most generous, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.”

Read the full document HERE.


Karen R. Effrem, MD

866-376-5550 (office)

Oct 2, 2015

Truth in American Education Publishes Federal Curriculum Article

We thank Shane Vander Hart of Truth in American Education who published Dr. Effrem’s article showing that the education establishment’s argument, led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, that Common Core and Race to the Top have nothing to do with curriculum is absolutely false.  This article is reproduced here


The arguments made by establishment proponents of Race to the Top and Common Core, including some presidential candidates continue to implode.  The well-worn chant that these were “state-led,” “voluntary,” “hijacked by the federal government,” and especially that Common Core is “only standards” and “has nothing to do with curriculum” is dissolving into thin air.  That particular claim about curriculum has been absolutely shredded in the admission by former US Department of Education (USED) official, Joanne Weiss in an essay discussing the “lessons learned” from the whole effort to nationalize education standards via Race to the Top (RTTT).  Weiss actually brags that RTTT, a federal government program, produced curriculum:

In addition, new curriculum materials funded through Race to the Top and released in 2014 are already in use in 20 percent of classrooms nationwide.(Emphasis added).

This is a clear violation of three federal laws that prohibit federal involvement in curriculum – The Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA – 20 U.S.C. § 7907(a)], The Department of Education Organization Act [20 U.S.C. § 3403(b)], and the General Education Provisions Act [GEPA – 20 U.S.C. § 1232(a)].  Here is a sample of the language from GEPA, which is quite similar to the other two:

“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, or personnel of educational institution, school, or school system…”  (Emphasis added).

Weiss’ statement quoted above is a direct admission that USED is violating federal law.  It also completely contradicts statements from presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his now former group The Foundation for Excellence in Education, that Common Core, adoption of which was all but required for cash-starved states to be able to compete for Race to the Top funds, is only a set of standards and has nothing to do with curriculum.  The claim that Bush’s foundation was attempting to debunk here is now shown to be truer than their so-called “fact:”

Claim: “Common Core means federal control of school curriculum, i.e., control by Obama administration left-wing bureaucrats.”

Fact:  Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum.  States voluntarily chose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.

This revelation comes on the heels of an excellent article by Jane Robbins of American Principles in Action, quoting the same essay by USED’s Weiss that that federal coercion was present from the beginning with the Race to the Top grant program by requiring alignment to the program:

“…by the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education — by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state’s reform proposal.”

Robbins rightly and clearly explained:

But how to persuade the states they should adopt the Common Core national standards? Benchmarking [for Success] had a suggestion for that too: “As soon as possible, the federal government should offer new funding . . . to help underwrite the cost for states to take the [reforms] described above related to standards and assessment, curriculum, human capital, and accountability.” (Emphasis added).

So the coercion described so cheerily by Weiss was actually part of the plan all along. By pushing particular standards and assessments onto the states through ties to RttT money, USED was able to impose its policy preferences, and those of the private entities that were calling the shots (indeed, Weiss herself had worked with one of those entities before being brought to USED by Secretary Arne Duncan).

As chronicled by Emmett McGroarty also of American Principles in Action, Bush was complementary of Obama’s efforts to use federal money for grants to expand the federal role in education:

I think Secretary Duncan and President Obama deserve credit for putting pressure on states to change, particularly the states that haven’t changed at all. They’re providing carrots and sticks, and I think that’s appropriate.

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