Browsing articles in "Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health"
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.

The National Pulse – Florida Seeks to Expand Ineffective Mental Health Screening in Schools

 

In her recent article for the National Pulse, Dr. Effrem discusses the failings of mental health data collection surrounding recent school violence.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) held a conference to discuss how to expand school-based mental health that was attended by the state’s 67 superintendents as well as several legislators and agency heads.

Broward County Superintendent and FADSS president Robert Runcie led the meeting. Runcie was superintendent during the February 2018 shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Runcie and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel are under intense scrutiny for ignoring or downplaying violent acts and threats by many students, including shooter Nikolas Cruz.

School officials ignored multiple felonious threats that Cruz made to various students, despite reports of them to those officials. Teachers and other school staff all over the country have noted how unsafe schools have become since the trend of not reporting school violence based on race and disability status — an approach pioneered in Broward County — spread nationwide under the Obama administration. Also, as previously reported, Cruz was well known to the mental health system, having been in an alternative school due to behavior problems; had been medicated for ADHD; and was being treated for depression, possibly with medication, at the time of his crimes.

As in the Texas situation, mental health data mining is a big deal. Superintendents from small, rural counties were told that in order to keep the money spigot open, the outcomes data for their mental health programs is “essential.” What the superintendents and legislators do not understand is how subjective and inaccurate mental health data and surveys that pull students into these programs — particularly screening and social emotional learning (SEL) surveys, as well as universal behavioral modification and outcome data — can be. We have previously discussed the Columbia Teen Screen survey that was only correct about 16 percent of time in accurately finding teens that actually had mental health issues requiring follow-up (called the Positive Predictive Value or PPV). Another review showed that only two of nine commonly used depression screening scales had a PPV at fifty percent, or no better than a coin flip.

You may read the full article here.

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.

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