Browsing articles in "Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health"
Jun 29, 2018

The American Spectator – Goodbye, Privacy? How New EdTech Is Turning Students Into Lab Rats

In this article, co-authored by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project, Dr. Effrem goes in depth on the extent to which data collection will affect the schools which carry the new SEL policies out.

Our children are being groomed to have no expectation of privacy, ever, and to accept constant surveillance as simply how things are. Schools and corporate vendors are playing a major role in stamping out the individual liberty and autonomy that should be our inheritance as Americans.

A major tool in this effort is “social emotional learning” (SEL), which schools are being urged to elevate over academic instruction to assess and manipulate students’ mindsets and emotions. A recent Education Week article reported on how technology is facilitating this transformation from education to therapy. One company highlighted in the article is a San Francisco-based startup called Emote, founded by a millennial CEO named Julian Golder.

According to EdWeek, Emote provides a mobile app that allows “a wide range of school staff, from bus drivers to teachers, to record and share their observations of when students appear sad, anxious, angry, and frustrated.” For example, if a bus driver notices that Patricia seems cranky when she climbs aboard, he can use the Emote app to record that observation and send it to all Patricia’s teachers. The app helpfully supplies a menu of keywords, such as “sad” and “overwhelmed,” and color coding (yellow for anxious, red for angry, etc.).

Thus notified of Patricia’s feelings, the teachers are supposed to watch her carefully because she may be at risk for “escalation” (getting into a fight, failing a test, etc.). This would be the educational equivalent of white-coated clinicians peering at Patricia over their eyeglasses and making notes upon every change of her facial expression.

You can find the full article on The Spectator’s website here.

Jun 13, 2018

The National Pulse – “Social Emotional Learning” Advocates Are Still Ignoring Its Many Problems


In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the problems associated with the roleout of social emotional learning. especially how tracking social emotional learning skills is far less accurate when predicting future success in students.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) — which receives our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to insinuate social emotional learning (SEL) standards and curriculum into every classroom in America from preschool on up — has found another voice to breathlessly tell us benighted parents and citizens that our children and their education will not survive unless and until SEL is everywhere. Giancarlo Brotto is the author of “The Future of Education Depends on Social Emotional Learning: Here’s Why,” the most recent piece of SEL cheerleading in EdSurge.

There are multiple problems with this piece. First, it ignores comments by SEL experts and proponents stating that there still is no good definition of SEL, as well as the negative SEL research. For example, Brotto did not mention this important study showing that academic skills in kindergarten are far more important than SEL in predicting academic achievement. Nor did he mention this meta-analysis, well discussed by Jane Robbins, showing that manipulating mindsets has no real effect on achievement.

You can view the full article at The National Pulse here.

The National Pulse – Texas School Safety “Action Plan” Contains More Problems than Solutions


In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the new school safety initiatives out of Texas following the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, and the problematic use of mental health screenings.

The first element of the plan is to “provide mental health evaluations that identify students at risk of harming others and provide them with the help they need.” This is the Telemedicine Wellness Intervention Triage & Referral (TWITR) Project, one of the programs that I wrote about several weeks ago. This program sends troubled students, referred by teachers, for screening by licensed professional counselors and, if necessary, for two telemedicine sessions with psychiatrists. According to the program’s data sheet, nearly 42,000 students were “impacted” by the program, with 1 percent (about 400) referred for triage and 215 receiving the counseling sessions.

However, while it may be a step forward that those truly in need of counseling are receiving it, there are several issues not mentioned in the information given. One unmentioned issue is the false positive rate of the screening. Although it is likely to be better than a standard written or online screen, because the screening is done by a licensed mental health professional, as previously discussed, the psychiatric profession readily admits that diagnosis is not standardized but is rather a consensus judgment, and diagnosing children and adolescents is especially difficult due to rapid developmental changes. A 2016 international psychiatric conference also highlighted the crisis of consensus for that specialty.]

You can view the full article at the National Pulse here.

May 25, 2018

The National Pulse – America Must Improve Its Horrible Psychiatric Care for Veterans


In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the quality of psychiatric care for veterans in the United States and the problems linked to the use of some psychiatric medications.

As Memorial Day approaches, it is incredibly important that we pause from our rhetorical and political battles on the education front to remember, honor, and teach the next generation the stories of our military men and women. These soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen fought and died to secure the heritage and blessings of our liberties. We are rapidly losing those who fought tyranny in World War II and the Korean conflict to age. The veterans of Vietnam are in middle age and are dealing both with the horrors of war and the poor treatment they received on their return due to the country’s conflict about our involvement there.

Tragically, in addition to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, far too many military members that served in Iraq and Afghanistan are dying due to suicide and, in addition to physical wounds, are suffering from the ravages of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The care they should be receiving is too often inadequate, ineffective and, in the area of mental health, downright dangerous….

…As bad as David’s experience was with psychiatric medications, sadly, it pales in comparison to that of other veterans. According to a letter by Dr. Joseph Tarantolo, a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist who helps patients come off of psychiatric medications, one of his veteran patients came to him on nine different psychiatric medications at the same time, and had been prescribed more than forty of these drugs over seven years with terrible consequences. According to the letter:

When he arrived at my office on August 17, 2017, he was on high doses of nine different drugs all of which have had profound adverse reaction impact. Before arriving at the VA for medical care in 2010, his vision was perfect, now impaired. Before arriving at the VA he had normal GI functioning, now impaired. Before arriving at the VA, he had normal sexual functioning, now impaired. Before arriving at the VA, although in psychological turmoil, he had excellent cognitive function and could emotionally feel authentically, now, “I fake feeling. I know I’m supposed to feel but I can’t.” And he nods off in the middle of substantive discussion.

You can view the full article at The National Pulse here.