Browsing articles in "Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health"
Apr 23, 2018
ELW

The American Spectator: The Latest Creepy Orwellian Education Tactic

 

 

Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, and Dr. Karen Effrem analyzed the latest example of psychological experimentation and manipulation of our students at the American Spectator. Here is an excerpt:

The failure to obtain consent from the research subjects — a tactic that SEL proponents didn’t deem even worth mentioning — illustrates the dangerous road that lies ahead for students from pre-K through college. The SEL pushers seem to simply assume that corporations and their allied government schools have the right to conduct psychological experiments on unsuspecting students.

The point of the Pearson experiment, as well as other SEL schemes, isn’t just to help students do their best — it’s to change their behavior and indeed their personalities in fundamental ways. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which wields tremendous influence over education practices globally, plans to use data from its new SEL profile for “personality development.” For instance, OECD identifies extroversion” as one of the “Big Five” personality traits that schools should assess and develop. So now the government has determined that introverted children are defective, and that SEL tactics should be employed to turn them into something they’re not?

As British professor Williamson noted, “’It’s concerning that forms of low-level psychological experimentation to trigger certain behaviors appear to be happening in the ed-tech sector, and students might not know those experiments are taking place.’”

The Pearson report doesn’t see the problem. The report touts “the possibility of leveraging commercial educational software for new research into the emerging science around students’ attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking about themselves.” Indeed. And when corporations and the government learn how to influence “attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking,” is there any limit to what they can do? Can they counteract the effect of family and faith on political or social issues? Can they mold students to be passive, uncritical receptors of information — information carefully monitored by the same corporations and government?

This is another reason that the federal student privacy law, FERPA, must be overhauled – so that American students are not forced to participate in these kinds of unethical experiments that have life-changing consequences.

Read the full article here. (Photo credit – The American Spectator)

Apr 16, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: Expanding Unproven “Social Emotional Learning” Will Not Make Schools Safer

 

The national social emotional learning commission from the Aspen Institute is pushing SEL as a way to deal with school violence. Dr. Effrem discusses the problems with this approach:

First, public schools and universities were not created to be the monitors and promoters of emotional safety and growth. While, of course, the learning environment should not be abusive (as it has often become, especially for students trying to maintain traditional, Judeo-Christian values or learn the principles of freedom that founded this nation), the emotional development of children is supposed to be under the primary purview of families. One of the main reasons the American education system is having so many problems is because schools and teachers are being asked or, in many cases, forced to take on the roles and duties of families. This trend is in turn caused by the government-induced epidemic of single-parent families. The evidence is clear that two-parent families and religious involvement are far more effective at closing the achievement gap and preventing social emotional distress than any school-based SEL program could ever be.

Secondly, there is nothing in any of these documents about maintaining firm, consistent discipline, which is integral for creating the school climate called for in these documents. As has been previously discussed (here, here, and here), the lax Obama school discipline policies — imposed upon schools via threats of extensive civil rights investigations or via bribes of million of dollars in School Climate Grants — have dangerously decreased school safety for both students and teachers. While it is true that behavior incidents are higher in African American students than for other races, this, as the research clearly shows, is not due to discrimination, but to the fact that children raised in single-parent households, especially boys, are more likely to have behavioral problems or be involved in criminal incidents. It is hoped that Secretary DeVos will continue the move to rescind this policy as the work of the School Safety Commission proceeds.

Thirdly, significant studies show that SEL is not as important for success as academic achievement — and some show SEL doesn’t work at all:

“Early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills. By contrast, measures of socioemotional behaviors…were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance, even among children with relatively high levels of problem behavior.” [Emphasis added — Duncan, et. al., School Readiness and Later Achievement – Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428-1446]

To create SEL standards and assess progress toward those standards presupposes that we agree about what SEL is. Yet neither researchers nor practitioners nor policymakers have come to such a consensus.

Finally, the individualized, inclusive, multi-cultural perspective that teachers are requesting in the teacher document has several major problems. It distracts more from academics when there are already so many distractions and academic performance has stagnated. And it is very difficult to see how teaching and learning can be further individualized when the Common Core standardizes teaching, curriculum, and assessment; machine-based “personalized” learning (competency-based education) severely diminishes the student-teacher interaction; and a multi-cultural emphasis can further balkanize students instead of creating unity.

Read the full article HERE.

Apr 13, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: Parents Beware: Mental Screening of Students Ramps Up in Texas

After Florida’s misguided school safety law passed, be on the lookout for similar harmful mental screening programs. Dr. Effrem discusses two programs in Texas:

There are so many problems with the foundation of these programs, it is difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with the admitted subjectivity of mental illness diagnostic criteria. As the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) diagnostic handbook was about to be published, Dr. Dilip Jeste, APA’s president at the time, admitted:

At present, most psychiatric disorders lack validated diagnostic biomarkers, and although considerable advances are being made in the arena of neurobiology, psychiatric diagnoses are still mostly based on clinician assessment.

There are many similar quotes, but this one from the World Health Organization (WHO) is very important, because it deals with the even more complicated developmental issues that prevent accurate psychiatric diagnosis, especially in children and teens:

Childhood and adolescence being developmental phases, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between phenomena that are part of normal development and others that are abnormal.

If the WHO, which is hardly a conservative, pro-family organization, admits that pediatric diagnosis can be confused due to normal developmental changes, this UT Southwestern program — featuring group psychotherapy sessions in schools that have the potential to amplify normal adolescent angst and blues into full-blown mental illness — hardly seems like a great idea.

The accuracy of mental screening instruments is also important to discuss given that both programs are doing mental screening in the schools. The Columbia Suicide Screen has a false positive rate of 84 percent. Others recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics have false positive rates of 71 percent and 59 percent. [Those percentages are obtained by subtracting the low positive predictive values, which mean that a person actually has the condition being tested or screened, from 100 percent.]

In addition, the use of Texas students by UT Southwestern as guinea pigs for “developing blood and brain tests for diagnosis to identifying effective treatments and interventions” raises many troubling issues. The studies want to analyze “socio-demographic, lifestyle, clinical, psychological, and neurobiological factors.”

This raises issues of patient and family consent, data privacy, and freedom of conscience. This is especially true when there is already a troubling overlap between academic data that lives forever in state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) and medical, social emotional, and psychological data collected at schools that does not seem to be protected by medical confidentiality law (HIPAA). These changes have come about due to the gutting of FERPA, the federal educational privacy law, during the Obama administration and changes in ESSA, the replacement for No Child Left Behind.

There is definitely a need for more effective treatments for adolescent depression. The current record for children and adolescents is awful. According to the government-funded STAR*D study in which the doctor in the UT Southwestern article is involved, the standard medications used to treat depression, SSRI antidepressants, are only effective for about one third of patients. These drugs are associated with suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide in children and teens. In fact, these medications are under the FDA’s black box warning, the agency’s most serious warning short of a ban. The SSRI drugs are also associated with violent reactions, including murderous rampages like school and other mass shootings.

If combined with other classes of medication like antipsychotics, the effectiveness only increases to about half of patients. However, these other drugs have very serious additional side effects, including permanent abnormal movements, brain damage, obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks.

All of these dangerous efforts are ramping up after school shootings like those in Newtown and Parkland. As previously discussed, the focus on mental screening, especially by poorly trained teachers and school officials, which can lead to inaccurate diagnoses and dangerous, ineffective medications, should be strongly opposed. Students in Texas schools, or those in any other state, should not be used as lab rats for government or pharmaceutical industry researchers.

Root causes like family breakdown and the use of academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative standards in schools (i.e. Common Core) need review and solutions. Using mental screening and medication for these issues is like trying to put a bandage on broken leg.

Read the full article HERE.

Mar 9, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: Florida “School Safety” Bill Would Make Schools Anything But Safe

A follow-up to the recent article by  Dr. Effrem on the Parkland shooting discusses the dangers of knee-jerk legislative responses in this excerpt:

But the most dangerous and unrecognized part of this bill is the increased psychiatric screening of “at-risk” students and the training of teachers to recognize the signs of mental illness and violence, imposing on them the responsibility to intervene.

Both sides used mental health issues as a scapegoat. Leaving the gun issues aside for a moment, not only will the mental health provisions do little to protect students in schools, they will harm essential liberties like freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, data privacy, and parental autonomy. By greatly increasing the potential for more students to be labeled and drugged with medications like ADHD drugs (which the Parkland shooter was reportedly taking) that are known to be associated with increased hostility and violence, it may also increase the incidence of these horrific events.

There are two aspects of the mental health issues in this bill that especially need more attention.

First is the hypocrisy of saying that it is wrong, dangerous, and too burdensome to give teachers and other school staff the voluntary option to be trained to carry weapons if the sheriff and the school board agree, but not saying the same of turning already overburdened teachers into psychologists to recognize mental health challenges and intervene. It is illogical and dangerous to the majority of other students to have teachers, who are unqualified in this realm, try to do — after only a few hours of training — what psychiatric professionals, who are trained for years, freely admit that they cannot do: predict who will become violent. Here is Dr. Julian Ford, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, who had extensively analyzed the life of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the similarities between Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, and Lanza:

But unfortunately, it’s impossible for any of us to predict who is going to go from being troubled and isolated to actually harming others…

…It really means we can’t rely on prediction and identifying the bad guys. Because we’ll misidentify some who aren’t bad guys, and we’ll fail to identify others who may become bad guys.

Professor Ford also discussed the other huge issue in the Parkland case — intervention when there was already a diagnosis and clear signs of someone being a danger to themselves or others:

Fortunately, in most cases, people who have come to that extreme juncture [that violence in is the only solution] don’t have the access to weapons, or there are people or institutions that intervene to help them.

After Cruz lost his mother, the institutions in his life clearly failed him. Mental screening would not have stopped him, because he was already identified as mentally ill and under treatment for both ADHD and depression. The school, the sheriff, the FBI, and the Department of Children and Families were all notified and yet failed to deal with his actions — which were both felonious and qualified him for involuntary examination under Florida’s Baker Act.

Ann Coulter quoted Cruz’s social media posts threatening to kill various classmates:

At least three students showed school administrators Cruz’s near-constant messages threatening to kill them — e.g., “I am going to enjoy seeing you down on the grass,” “Im going to watch ypu bleed,” “iam going to shoot you dead” — including one that came with a photo of Cruz’s guns. They warned school authorities that he was bringing weapons to school. They filed written reports. (sic)

Threatening to kill people is a felony. Either the felony arrest or the involuntary mental health exam under the Baker Act would have caused him to fail the background check and prevented his firearm purchase. The reason these crimes were ignored have nothing to do with a lack of mental screening, but rather terrible, failed liberal policy.

As Coulter, Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle of the American Principles Project, and Dr. Susan Berryhave all detailed, the failure of the school and the sheriff to act had much to do with federal coercion and bribery via a horrible Obama-era policy to not report, arrest, or otherwise intervene in the crimes of minority or disabled students — all in the misguided name of equity. Here is a great summary of what we know from Robbins’ and Tuttle’s detailed review of this terrible program:

One: The federal government established a policy to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by keeping troublesome students in school and out of jail. Two: Several federal agencies collaborated to leverage educational efforts, formal guidance, and federal money to incentivize states and local districts to implement this policy. Three: BCPS took bold steps – including entering into an agreement with law-enforcement and judicial authorities – to implement the policy, as a result of which it was awarded several million dollars in federal funding. Four: BCPS was proud of its reduction in contacts with law enforcement after implementing the collaborative agreement and had committed to USED through the School Climate grant to keep those numbers down. Five: A boy with a long history of disturbing behavior throughout his time at the school murdered 17 students [and staff].

You can read the full article HERE.

 

 

Pages:123456789»