Karen R. Effrem, MD – President
The Republican Party Platform was released on July 18th. The battle between grassroots parent activists and the corporate/foundation/bureaucratic establishment is evident, but the preponderance of the education platform is a testament to the hard work and dedication of parents all over the country including those on the Platform Committee. Here is my list of the most important quotes from both perspectives and a bit of analysis of important issues fought to a draw.
Grassroots Parent Wins
- The primacy of the parental role in education –
“Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing. We support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations.”
- The critical need for two parent families –
“It is also why everyone should be concerned about the state of the American family today, not because of ideology or doctrine, but because of the overwhelming evidence of experience, social science, and common sense. All of which give us these truths about traditional marriage: Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. (Emphasis added)
- Affirming the need to eliminate or greatly reduce the federal role in education –
“Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity. That is why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have done immense damage. The federal government should not be a partner in that effort, as the Constitution gives it no role in education.”
“Since 1965, the federal government, through more than 100 programs in the Department of Education, has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with little substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates.”
- Opposition to national standards –
“We reject a one-size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level. We likewise repeat our long-standing opposition to the imposition of national standards and assessments, encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core…” (Emphasis added).
- Opposing out of control test-based accountability -
“It rejects excessive testing and ‘teaching to the test’ and supports the need for strong assessments to serve as a tool so teachers can tailor teaching to meet student needs.”
- Protecting student privacy and freedom of conscience -
“The federal government has pushed states to collect and share vast amounts of personal student and family data, including the collection of social and emotional data. Much of this data is collected without parental consent or notice. This is wholly incompatible with the American Experiment and our inalienable rights.”
“…and believe that federal funds should not be used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.”
- Local control –
“…parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling”
“…classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards”
- Affirming academic basics and other important foundations -
“We strongly encourage instruction in American history and civics by using the original documents of our founding fathers.”
“A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high schools.”
“To ensure that all students have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society.”
“…STEM subjects and phonics”
- Affirming the view of students as individuals, not products or “human capital”
“At the heart of the American Experiment lies the greatest political expression of human dignity: The self-evident truth that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ That truth rejects the dark view of the individual as human capital — a possession for the creation of another’s wealth.”
- Safety, privacy, and health –
“Their agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power. They are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their [Title IX] edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.”
“We renew our call for replacing ‘family planning’ programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach — the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease — empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception.”
“All personnel who interact with school children should pass background checks and be held to the highest standards of personal conduct.”
Fought to a Draw:
There was no mention of Hillary-style universal early childhood programs despite early reports that they might be rejected by the committee and $250 million was spent on them in the statist and tyrannical Every Student Succeeds Act. There was also no mention of ESSA itself, despite desperate attempts of the Republican congressional leadership to portray it as a conservative win, even during convention speeches.
- Portability and Universal School Choice – Federal Title I and IDEA portability will clearly bring federal mandates, regulations, national standards like Common Core that were so sadly cemented into place by the passage of the ESSA, tests and data collection into the private schools. That is what is happened with the voucher bill in Indiana under Governor Mike Pence. That danger is also ever present to home schooling autonomy under the guise of “universal school choice options,” so in favor with Jeb Bush and his foundation. When government school mandates are imposed on home and private schools, these will be eliminated as real alternatives to the FedEd Leviathan. It is also inconsistent with the other plank in the platform of reducing or eliminating the unconstitutional federal role in education.
“We propose that the bulk of federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for children with special needs should follow the child to whatever school the family thinks will work best for them.”
“We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits.”
- Misuse of test scores for every kind of accountability – The platform mentions a concept very near and dear to the Jeb Bush faction of the GOP – “ending social promotions.” However, much research shows that third grade retention is not helpful and in many cases, harmful. Even worse, numerous Florida school districts are using this ineffective practice to punish parents that opt their children out of the validity challenged tests and retaining the students with no documented reading deficiency just because they have no test score. Parents are readying a lawsuit.
“More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance. After years of trial and error, we know the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement: …career and technical education; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers…”
- No acknowledgement of state Common Core rebrands – Despite the language congratulating “the states which have successfully repealed it,” thanks to the efforts of Common Core proponent organizations, no state has successfully repealed and replaced the Common Core with any standards that are not just deceptive rebrands. This includes Indiana under Mike Pence, Florida under Rick Scott with guidance from Jeb Bush, and the Bill Gates funded legal effort to block the Massachusetts ballot initiative.
“…and congratulate the states which have successfully repealed it.”
- Portrayal of education as skills-based workforce training – Per Jane Robbins’ excellent analysis, this legislation is a “Soviet-style monstrosity that divides states into regions and sets up crony-populated labor boards to control training and workforce-development for politically connected industries. This concept is not just anti-conservative; it’s anti-American. Republican members of Congress should be begging forgiveness, not blowing their horns.”
“Their Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act — modernizing workforce programs, repealing mandates, and advancing employment for persons with disabilities — is now law.”
- Emphasis on technology in education – This is the establishment effort to support teacher replacing, data mining, expensive and ineffective competency based education.
“Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, it must be a key element in our efforts to provide every child equal access and opportunity.”
For Immediate Release! Liberty Counsel, Education Liberty Watch & Many Groups Warn of Illegal NAEP Mindset Profiling!
Liberty Counsel, an international legal, media and policy organization with an emphasis on religious liberties protected by the First Amendment, sent a letter to several congressional committees regarding the very problematic and illegal plan of the National Assessment Governing Board to assess mindsets and other subjective, socioemotional factors in the 2017 version of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). This letter was signed by eight national organizations, including Education Liberty Watch, and 69 state organizations in 29 different states, including the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FSCCC). Here is a summary of those concerns according to Liberty Counsel Attorney Richard Mast, the author of the letter:
The NAEP is poised to violate federal law by collecting extremely sensitive psychological/socioemotional data on children; it will do so in a necessarily subjective manner; it contains a substantial risk of exposing the subject children to possible negative consequences in their later schooling and employment careers, to the extent that even supporters of such assessments are concerned; and it will entrust extremely sensitive data to agencies that are no longer governed by serious privacy law and that have proven they cannot or will not keep personal student data secure.
These proposed changes constitute potential parental rights violations, and expose the children to a litany of harms in the present and in the future. Thus, any efforts to ask questions concerning mindsets and other socioemotional parameters and to collect that data via the NAEP should be halted immediately.
“We are extremely pleased and thankful that Liberty Counsel and so many organizations around the country have joined this important national fight for student data and psychological privacy,” said Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. “Congress must do its due diligence and properly exercise its oversight authority to stop these obvious statutory and constitutional violations and this continued federal overreach before the privacy and futures of our students are further harmed. We urge our members to help educate their members of Congress about this issue and to be sure to opt their children out of this very invasive test.”
Karen R. Effrem, MD
What You Can Do:
1) Make sure your members of Congress see this letter and demand that the planned psychological profiling of our children be stopped.
2) Also educate your congressional representatives on the dangers of social emotional research in SETRA – S 227, the Strengthening Education Through Research Act by giving or sending them this one page handout.
3) Educate your candidates for Congress on these very important privacy issues
4) PLEASE support us in this David and Goliath battle against the Washington Education Cartel trying to control the lives and futures of our children and grandchildren!
DONATE AT http://edlibertywatch.org/donate/
Thank you for everything you are doing to protect the hearts and minds of our children!
We continue to marvel at the imperial sense of entitlement and cluelessness of Big Data in thinking both that they deserve sensitive personal student and psychological data without consent and that parents are “afraid” of student research. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem’s latest privacy article posted on The Pulse 2016 in rebuttal to this Brookings Institute attorney titled Memo to Big Data: Parents Are Furious — Not Fearful — About Data-Mining:
Nor is “trust” engendered when data-collection involves psychologically profiling innocent children to provide the “individual and micro data” advocated by Leong, using creepy, Orwellian devices such as those described in a recent op-ed in U.S. News and World Report and rebutted here:
And in any event, government is notorious — especially in the education arena — for simply ignoring research that doesn’t support its desired outcomes (for example, the many studies showing the ineffectiveness and or harm of current government education and child social programs such as preschool and home visiting [also here], as well as the effectiveness of a two-parent family structure and academic basics like phonics). So why do we need so much research in the first place?
Ms. Leong, the “responsible” thing would be for the federal government to pull out of education altogether, as it has no constitutional authority to be involved. Short of that, it might consider honoring the petition by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to enforce FERPA as written, and following these recommendations from our review of that March House Hearing on SETRA that include removing the social-emotional language from SETRA and strengthening of FERPA and PPRA to prohibit the collection of this socio-emotional data. That would go further than lectures from Ms. Leong in increasing parents’ trust that their children’s privacy is safe.
Jane Robbins, attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project wrote another excellent article about invasive federal involvement in early childhood education, this time in the context of Hillary Clinton’s dangerous pre-K plan. In it she discussed Clinton’s strong desire to to extend her work as First Lady of Arkansas where she expanded a failed childcare/home visiting program called Parents as Teachers and then as US First Lady when she wrote the book It Takes a [Government] Village.
Robbins discusses the help Clinton has received on her quest from both President Obama who has been promoting universal preschool for his entire presidency and the Congressional Republicans who caved and gave him another $250 million for preschool in the Every Student Succeed Act.
She also discussed the push for even more national pre-K standards aligned to Common Core, especially the invasive social emotional standards and the terrible track record of failure and harm caused by these programs. On the last two issues, she was kind enough to mention or link to Dr. Effrem’s research in these areas, for which we thank her. Here is an excerpt:
In any event, the Gates-funded ETS argues that as long as the federal government has pushed Common Core onto the states, beginning in kindergarten, the accomplishment-inducing preschool standards should be aligned with Common Core. That way preschool can be standardized across the country, eliminating the dreaded “inequity” by ensuring all preschoolers are drilled according to the same garbage standards. Alignment would also allow teachers to share instructional strategies and all teach the same thing. We can’t have children in Kansas coloring duckies while Minnesotans are focusing on kittens.
And of course, these standards should emphasize “social-emotional learning.” The government must expect teachers to observe and record toddlers’ psychological development and attributes, which information will be fed into the state longitudinal database for future use. Children will be affected — perhaps haunted — by these subjective observations throughout their school careers, and maybe beyond.
Where to begin? First, much research establishes that government-sponsored preschool either has little benefit for children, or actually damages their development and learning.
For example, multiple studies (see HERE and HERE for the most recent) have established that the federal Head Start program doesn’t benefit children beyond the earliest years of elementary school. A federally funded study from 2012 showed that Head Start participation produces little to no benefit in either cognitive or social-emotional development. And in some areas, Head Start even has harmful effects. (Of course, this evidence has not diminished federal funding for Head Start taxpayers have coughed up around $200 billion for this useless-to-harmful program since its inception.)
A more recent study of Tennessee’s pre-K program was similarly discouraging. This study found that participants in the state program showed no benefits by the end of kindergarten, and in fact, by first and second grade performed worse than children who avoided the state pre-K.
Numerous studies of Head Start and other state programs have shown initial gains but then either “fadeout” or decline/harm in subsequent years. According to pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem, it’s not unusual to see an initial improvement that then disappears, or even deteriorates into decline, in both academic and behavioral parameters.
But even if there were solid evidence supporting government preschool, the suggestion that Common Core-aligned national standards be imposed is, to use a technical term, nuts. Early-childhood educators and other development experts have blasted the Common Core K-3 standards as grossly inappropriate from a child-development standpoint. In 2010, over 500 early-childhood experts issued a joint statement urging rejection of the standards as utterly incompatible with real human children and how they learn.
Read the full article - No, Hillary Clinton Won’t Make Preschool Great Again.
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