Browsing articles in "Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health"
Jul 24, 2018

Truth in American Education – Responding to The 74 Jumping on the Social-Emotional Learning Bandwagon

Senior fellow at the American Principles Project, Jane Robbins, and Dr. Effrem co-authored this rebuttal at Truth in American Education to more inaccurate cheerleading for social emotional learning (SEL) at education website, The 74. Here is an excerpt:

  • The 74 traces the concept of SEL back to the 1995 book Emotional Intelligence (which the news outlet apparently takes seriously). In fact, “emotional intelligence” has been debunkedas “a fraudulent concept, a fad, a convenient bandwagon, a corporate marketing scheme.” SEL first entered the federal education lexicon in 1994 as part of the Goals 2000 legislation signed by President Clinton. These goals were “voluntary” as long as states were willing to give up their share of federal Title I money for not implementing them. This is analogous to recession-racked states’ “voluntarily” adopting the Common Core standards to qualify for federal money. 
  • Interestingly, research in a paper cited by The 74, as well as multiple other SEL proponents and education stakeholders, posits that the supposedly “rigorous” and “academic” Common Core supports  SEL and vice versa. The fact that Common Core is proving to be a drag on academic achievement demonstrates that neither is very effective. Besides seeing both SEL and Common Core as anti-academic, parents and citizens also recognize both as invasive and indoctrinating — so touting the SEL-Common Core connection is unlikely to engender support for either one.  
  • The 74 cites only studies supportive of SEL. But even the aforementioned CASEL researcher admitted, “The results to date have been mixed…There’s also a general lack of long-term studies that might give researchers a clearer picture of the programs’ effectiveness.” In fact, The 74 ignores glaring defects of the first meta-analysis it links — that only 15% of the 200+ studies reviewed did a long-term follow-up, and only 16% actually checked academic outcomes. The 74 also neglects to mention a decidedly negative analysisof preschool SEL in six longitudinal education databases, which concluded, “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.” Ironically, the preschool years have the most uniform, numerous, and longstanding SEL standards in all fifty states. Yet this study, combined with a new Brookings paper, affirms much previous research showing that SEL-laden Head Start and other government preschool programs don’t improve academic outcomes. Nor does “growth mindset” (an SEL favorite), as confirmed by another recent study. 

Read the full article here.

Jul 16, 2018

Video Interview – Dangers of School-based Mental Screening

Randy Osborne of Florida Government Watch did a second interview of Dr. Effrem regarding the dangers of school mental health screening which was also covered during the July 11th School Safety Commission meeting. None of the problems of inaccuracy, privacy invasion, consent, etc. were discussed by witness, Dr. Mark Olfson, the director of the failed TeenScreen program at Columbia University that shut down in 2012 without explanation after a school was sued for screening a teenager without parental consent. Dr. Effrem was an expert witness in that case.

The Co-director of TeenScreen, Dr. David Schaffer, admitted that TeenScreen has a false positive rate of 84%. Many of the other screening instruments have similarly and ridiculously poor accuracy rates. These screening instruments lead to rampant overprescribing of psychiatric medications that have dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects, including suicide and murderous rampages. It is extremely disturbing that there was no countervailing information presented at the commission meeting.



Jul 16, 2018

Video Interview – The Connection between Psychiatric Drugs and School Shootings No One wants to Talk About.

Thanks to Randy Osborne of Florida Government Watch for his excellent interview of Dr. Effrem on the dangerous connection between the rampant over-medicating of our youth and the increase in school and other mass shootings.

It is especially pertinent because this connection was severely and incorrectly minimized during the federal School Safety Commission meeting on July 11th.


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.