Browsing articles in "Federal Education"

New Report: 50 Years of ‘Fed Ed’ Has Failed to Close Achievement Gap

This article written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse details the failings of the U.S. federal education system to raise the academic performance for underprivileged students.

A History of Fed Ed: From ESEA to Common Core

That federal interference started with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which began compensatory grants for poor children in K-12, and Head Start, the federal preschool program, both passed in 1965. Both laws, plus the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), started out relatively benignly with all sorts of comforting language about how the federal government was not going to interfere in local autonomy regarding curriculum, etc.

However, both federal education laws have gradually increased the iron grip of federal control over states and school districts over the last fifty years. These three statutory provisions protecting local control have essentially been ignored.

First, the feds imposed statewide standards and tests on states as a prerequisite for federal funds in the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA, called the Improving America’s Schools Act. Not only did they take away school district autonomy in choosing standards and tests, but they also required those standards to comply with the federal Goals 2000 standards. Goals 2000 was an intensification of federal control of both state and federal pre-K programs that had to comply with Head Start — and also marked the first time that “social emotional learning” appeared in the federal education lexicon.

Then came the 2001 version of ESEA, called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It ratcheted up federal control even more by requiring statewide tests in math and English/reading every year in grades 3-8 and science once in elementary, middle, and high school. SEL and preschool elements from the 1994 bill also survived in the new version. However, the worst part of NCLB was the completely unrealistic 100-percent proficiency requirement in math and English by 2014 for every subgroup under the threat of districts losing federal funding.

Years later, the Obama administration then used that threat plus the Great Recession to bribe/coerce states into adopting Common Core via illegal waivers and the Race to the Top grant program, all well explained in the white paper by Robert Eitel and Kent Talbert: “The Road to a National Curriculum — The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers.”

The rest of the article can be viewed on The National Pulse’s website.

Mar 26, 2019

President Trump’s 2020 Budget: The Good and Bad News for Education

This article written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse lays out and simplifies this year’s education budget proposals.

As discussed for the last two budget cycles (here and here) President Trump is working to keep his 2016 campaign promise to cut the size and scope of the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Here is some of the good, bad and ugly of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget:

The Good News

The 2020 budget seeks to cut overall USED spending by $7.1 billion or ten percent. That is consistent with his previous budgets and a good start on what is a big job. Basically level funding is maintained for both Title I, the main federal education program for poor students in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and for the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

Within that 10 percent, for a total of $6.7 billion, the proposed budget eliminates “funding for 29 programs that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, are ineffective, or are more appropriately supported with State, local, or private funds.”

Among those 29 programs proposed for elimination are several that we have followed over the years that are particularly invasive:

Full Service Community Schools — a.k.a. Parent Replacement Centers

21st Century Community Learning Centers — Besides being terribly ineffective, according to a national study performed by USED, there is evidence that these programs are actually harmful to behavior.

Safe and Supportive Schools Program — This $1.17 billion program is new since ESSA was passed in 2015 and contains many social and emotional learning programs with all of their subjectivity and data collection with the potential to live forever in the state longitudinal systems (SLDS), whether the data is accurate or not.

State Longitudinal Data Systems — Given the porousness of student data protections due to the age and weakness of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) already with rampant sharing of very sensitive student and family data, including SEL data,  with government agencies, corporations, and researchers, all without parental consent, this is possibly the best cut on the list.

The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) that oversees the SLDS and all other federal education data mining is taking a 15 percent cut in this budget.

As it did last year, the budget request zeroes out the $250 million Preschool Development Grants. Given the near constant stream of data from the federal government or scholarly sources, even to the left of center, showing government preschool to be at best, ineffective, and at worst harmful, this is a very wise move.

Regional Education Laboratories — These education research centers have long been petri dishes for failed progressive policies that, as admitted by the head of one regional lab back in 1989, are seeking “…the total restructuring of society…”

Ready to Learn Television — This is further government supplementation of public broadcasting, which is already biased toward the left end of the political spectrum to produce government approved children’s programming that has contained many topics controversial among adults.

The Bad (or Less than Ideal) News

There is a push to use the savings from the eliminated or reduced funding to promote public and private school choice, a big priority for both the President and Secretary DeVos — but which has detractors on all points on the political spectrum. The significant problems with federal school choice from a conservative perspective, particularly the strong potential for imposing state tests and therefore the state standards, were discussed by Joy Pullman at The Federalist and by me a few weeks ago.

The budget calls for $53.4 million for school climate grants, including tiered programs like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), that begins with monitoring the attitudes and behaviors of the entire student population and advances toward intensified “interventions” as the staff determines children need more “help.” PBIS was originally included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to try to resolve academic or mental/SEL issues of “at-risk” students short of a full special-education referral, but ESSA expanded the program school-wide. Despite claims by proponents that PBIS is “evidence based” or “research based,” the federal PBIS technical support center admits that “school-wide PBIS is in its infancy” and that all of PBIS is quite experimental. In other words, there are no controlled trials involving large numbers of students to know if the concept really works. Nevertheless, PBIS is embraced uncritically in the public-education realm; even the federal School Safety Commission has recommended it as a means to prevent school violence. The literature on PBIS includes little to no discussion of how the universal or at-risk behaviors are chosen; what sensitive, personally identifiable information is collected on children for the various tiers; how children’s attitudes, values, and beliefs are modified; and what outcome data is included in children’s lifelong data dossiers (more about this below). Also, the phrase “parental consent” rarely, if ever, appears on PBIS explanatory websites.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately for the great cuts in this budget and fortunately for the bad items, if Congress, even under total Republican control, was unable or unwilling to pass most of the President’s budget request, it is highly unlikely to happen now, given that Democrats control the U.S. House. However, with the 2020 elections upcoming, there is a chance that if we unite, we can make our voices heard on these vital issues of academic excellence, parental autonomy, and privacy. Stay tuned!

The full article can be found on The National Pulse’s website.

 

 

Dec 29, 2018
ELW

Townhall – Lame-Duck Congress Plays Grinch to Citizens by Passing Anti-Privacy Database Bill

In a new column at Townhall.com, Dr. Effrem explains the dangers of the unrecorded voice vote passage of yet another privacy invading bill by the U.S. Senate, waiting until after the election to pass a bill that dozens of citizen and parent groups opposed when passed by the House in 2017. This excerpt discusses some of the many reasons HR 4174, the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act (FEPA) is so problematic based on a summary and a rebuttal prepared by groups opposing FEPA:

While FEPA itself doesn’t expressly establish a formal data system with a central repository, the bill’s mandates regarding linking and sharing data among multiple federal agencies and thousands of bureaucrats will create essentially the same result: a de facto national database.

The federal government is demonstrably incompetent at data security; moreover, it routinely ignores the overwhelming data it already has showing the ineffectiveness of many (most) federal programs. There is no reason to believe an even more enormous trove of data can be secured, or that it will actually change government behavior in any meaningful way.

Most importantlycollecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Citizen direction of government cannot happen when government sits in a position of intimidation of the individual.

The full commentary is available HERE and has also been discussed at Breitbart.com and EdWeek.org.

Due to the partial government shutdown, the White House comment line is not operating, but you may urge President Trump to veto this egregious violation of citizen led-governance and privacy by emailing him or tweeting to @realDonaldTrump or @POTUS.

 

Aug 3, 2018
ELW

Truth in American Education – Is American Government Rejecting Capitalism & Embracing a Managed Economy?


Because this trend towards a managed economy is so concerning, Dr. Effrem’s article from Truth in American Education is re-posted here in its entirety.

While skilled workers are needed to build new infrastructure and for our expanding economy after the tax cuts, the reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006 tries to accomplish those goals via the wrong method – replacing capitalism with central planning. The new bill, called The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, HR 2353, just passed Congress on voice votes and signed yesterday.

The increasingly centralized federal education and workforce system, of which Perkins is a part, is multifaceted: the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the proposed merger of the Departments of Labor and Education, Common Core for use with digital badges,  computerized  “personalized” learning (PL)/competency-based education (CBE), and older laws like No Child Left Behind, Goals 2000, and School to Work. 

This longstanding, unconstitutional federal interference in education and labor markets, picking winners and losers, has not improved and will not improve academic or economic outcomes. Even worse, Perkins is the latest example of racing away from capitalism to embrace principles of government/corporate control found in European social democracies and failed command-and-control economies littering the 20th century.

The Perkins reauthorization contains multiple passages embracing central economic planning. The bill requires the use of “State, regional, or local labor market data to determine alignment of eligible recipients’ programs of study to the needs of the State, regional, or local economy, including in-demand industry sectors and occupations identified by the State board, and to align career and technical education with such needs… What happened to individual students and free markets making those decisions? 

The “State board” refers to government-appointed bureaucrats, including corporate bigwigs, on state workforce boards set up under the Workforce Investment Act (predecessor to WIOA) signed by President Clinton. This scheme elevates the needs of business over student desires, while playing Carnac to predict economic trends. 

These boards were essential to Marc Tucker’s plan to centralize the entire U.S. education and workforce system, outlined in his now infamous 1992 letter to the Clintons. It was and remains Tucker’s plan to “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum, including “national standards” and “job matching,” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.”

In 2001, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and policy analyst Michael Chapman described key components of Tucker’s system implemented via three federal laws signed by Clinton, including: Continue reading »

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