Browsing articles in "Mental Health"
Jan 7, 2016
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Comments on Federal “Family Engagement” Policy

Detailed comments were submitted by Dr. Karen Effrem on January 4th in response to the US Departments of Health ad Human Services and Education’s Orwellian Family Engagement Policy Framework. The full document is available here: Family Engagement Policy Comments.  A summary of the four main points of contention are as follows:

  1. Parents are not just “equal partners,” they “own the store” when it comes to raising their children – Although the document says on page one that “Families are children’s first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers” on page 1, it does not clearly set forth the preeminent role of parents in the education and upbringing of their children.  Based on Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, Troxel vs Granville, and Meyers vs. Nebraska to name a few seminal Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, the pervasive language in this document that parents are mere partners with government or that government programs are to perform “parenting interventions” is extremely disturbing and unacceptable.
  2. Promotion of government home visiting programs – Based on this agency’s own research, these programs are extraordinarily ineffective in two of the major areas that they are alleged to help:

    Prevention of Child Maltreatment:  For primary measures in the studies reviewed where there was data listed, only 15/75 parameters (20%) showed a positive effect while 60/75 parameters (80%) showed no effect and there were many programs not studied.
    Child Development and School Readiness:  For primary measures in the studies reviewed where there was data listed, only 77/448 parameters (17%) showed a positive effect while 362/448 parameters (82%) showed no effect, 3/448 parameters (1%) showed a negative or ambiguous effect, and there were many programs not studied.

  3. Focus on social emotional parameters and data for young children – It is the epitome of destruction of parental autonomy to have the federal government via any agency tamper with, manipulate, set norms for, or otherwise deal with anything in this realm.  Psychiatric diagnosis and social emotional parameters are extremely subjective to begin with and are especially difficult to use for young children in particular. Having data and evaluations of these subjective and inaccurate parameters in children’s records that follow them for life is extraordinarily problematic.
  4. Data Privacy – The draft document is replete with references to expand data collection such as this recommendation on page 9: “Develop and integrate family engagement indicators into existing data systems.” Students, families, and teachers whose sensitive personal and family data about everything from “social and emotional” issues to genetic data in newborn screening is collected and shared between many federal agencies and private entities. According to an investigation by Politico, education technology companies are “scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day.”  FERPA has been severely weakened via regulatory fiat to gut consent requirements and broaden access to data by federal agencies and private entities.  Given both the extent and sensitivity of the data that would need to be collected, the spectacular failure of the federal government to protect citizen data (Healthcare.gov, OPM and NSA data breaches), and the complete absence of the word “consent” in this document, this kind of data collection should be eliminated, not expanded

 

Aug 25, 2015
ELW

CNSNews.com Interviews Dr. Effrem About “Parent Replacement Centers” in NCLB Rewrite

Many thanks to Barbara Hollingsworth for her excellent and in-depth article about Senator Sharrod Brown’s amendment that passed in the Senate No Child Left Behind Rewrite called the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).  This amendment continues funding for the very nanny state program called The Full Service Community.  Here is our description from the summary of ECAA:

Brown amendment (SA 2100) to restore the Full Service Community Schools grants from NCLB Despite Alexander’s opposition, the horrific grant program that turns schools into a second or even first home for children and reduces parents to “breeders and feeders,” passed 43-51.  Among the purposes of the program are to “ensure that children have the physical, social, and emotional well-being to come to school ready to engage in the learning process every day.”  The grantee is supposed to do a means assessment that “identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents,” which will include all sorts of mental health data gathering. The list  of services that can be offered is 23 items long and included mental health services and “other services consistent with this part.” All of the Democrats plus Republicans Ayotte, Blunt (MO), Capito, Collins, Fischer (NE), Hoeven (ND), Isakson (GA), and Portman voted for this nanny state expansion while all of the rest of the Republicans, including presidential candidates Cruz and Paul wisely voted against it, Sanders voted for it, and Graham and Rubio did not vote.

Here is her description:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Full Service Community Schools Program has awarded $55.2 million to various applicants since FY 2008, with preference given to groups that operate in the White House’s designated Promise Zones.
The department filed a notice in the Federal Registeron May 6 soliciting applications for the program, which will be paid for by The Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE).Applicants, defined as “consortia consisting of a local educational agency and one or more community-based organizations,” can request up to $500,000 for each of five years, for a maximum of $2.5 million. So far this year, the department has awarded 12 grants totaling $5.2 million.According to the Coalition for Community Schools, there are an estimated 5,000 full service community schools currently in operation in the U.S. “Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities,” the group’s website states.

Brown’s amendment would extend funding for five years for schools that participate “in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships.”

According to his bill, such schools must agree to provide “not less than 3 qualified services …and not less than 2 additional qualified services” to students both before and after school, on the weekends and during the summer “to meet the holistic needs of children”.

The type of services that would be provided are based on a “needs assessment that identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents.”

Here is Dr. Effrem’s discussion in the Hollingsworth article of the mental health and indoctrination concerns with this program:
This is basically the government schools taking over the duties of families. It’s very scary,” agreed Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch.”At least the House was strong and wise enough not to allow such an amendment,” which she says “turns schools into a second or even first home for children and reduces parents to ‘breeders and feeders’.”I have been fighting against both the data-mining of students and the psychological profiling of students for many years,” Effrem told CNSNews.com. “This program is horrible because it continues the great expansion of federal psychological profiling of children, and it also will result in a ton of data-mining of students and their families about very non-academic subjects.
“It will not only run your life, but control what your kids are taught,” she said. “A big part of it is the mental health screenings of children and families that really opens the door for a tyrannical imposition of thought and conscience norms by the government.
“The National Center for Education Statistics and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education are already collecting data on bullying incidents that have to do with perceived gender identity and sexual orientation. And there are already violence prevention programs that talk about kids as potentially violent or mentally unstable if they make statements about LGBT students or religion,” Effrem pointed out.”Of course, this is incredibly subjective and open to all sorts of political correctness. Who’s going to define what the norms are?” she asked.
This is all the more evidence that the conference report from these bills needs to be defeated!
Jul 19, 2015
ELW

Analysis of Amendments and Votes for the Every Child Achieves Act

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Sadly, despite clear and detailed warnings from parents, teachers, activists, and policy experts, the US Senate passed its rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) called The Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA – S1170) on July 16th by a vote of 81-17.   Three Democrats voted against the bill because of not enough government control, but nonetheless did the right thing.  It is extremely clear that big government and big business interests, who are supporting pro-Common Core candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton, are colluding to cement federal control over American education.

We would like to thank the following senators for their opposition votes to the overall bill:

NAYs —17

Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)

Three of the five presidential candidates in the Senate – Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) – voted no. Bernie Sanders (I-VT, a member of the Socialist Party running for president as a Democrat) voted for the bill. The fifth, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), did not vote. Senator Sanders offered one amendment on youth unemployment that was rejected (see below). Senators Rubio and Graham did not offer any amendments to the bill, nor did they make any statements about it afterwards.  Here are the statements of Cruz, Paul, and Sanders:

Cruz:

 “While this bill makes some improvements to the status quo, it ultimately falls short of empowering parents and local school districts. To that end, it is a missed opportunity for meaningful change.

“Decisions regarding our children’s future should be placed in the hands of those closest to students, and that is teachers and parents. This is why I introduced an amendment to give states the flexibility to develop their own accountability standards, rather than meeting criteria outlined by federal bureaucrats in the Washington cartel. This type of federal control has led to the failed, top-down policies that produced Common Core. We also had the opportunity today to significantly advance school choice for low-income students, giving them a chance to succeed at a public or private school of their choosing. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the Senate rejected these amendments, perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our children.

“When the federal government is in charge, the most common outcome is accepting the lowest common denominator. When it comes to the future of our country and our children’s future, the lowest common denominator is simply unacceptable. We can do better and our children deserve better.”

Paul:

“I believe education is the great equalizer, but Washington’s intrusion in the classroom leaves most kids behind. This bill is not the solution, as it retains some of No Child Left Behind’s biggest flaws – a lack of adequate parental choice, a federal testing mandate, and continued support for Common Core,” Sen. Paul said.

 

Sanders:

“On Thursday, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, which would fundamentally reform No Child Left Behind. The law would replace the current high-stakes standardized testing model with an approach that would give Vermont significant flexibility to determine how to intervene in struggling schools. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Sanders had a role in crafting the bill and successfully fought to lower the stakes on standardized testing and to preserve a federal after-school program that serves thousands of low-income students around Vermont. The bill also included a pilot program written by Senator Sanders that would allow states to develop innovative alternatives to standardized testing.”

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who co-authored the bill with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), boasted after the bill passed about the “remarkable bipartisan consensus.”   He tried to make those that voted  against the bill sound extreme by declaring that ECAA fixed about 80% of the problems with NCLB and that even Ronald Reagan said to be happy with getting 80% of what one wants.

Well, aside from the fact that things were not fixed, but made worse with this bill, here is a little history lesson for the senior senator from Tennessee.  There was an even more remarkable bipartisan consensus in Congress in 2001 when NCLB passed the Senate floor under Senator Edward Kennedy and President George W. Bush by a whopping 91-8 vote. Only eight senators had the constitutional and educational understanding to know what a disaster NCLB would be at this same point in the process. That number has more than doubled with ECAA, so from that perspective, the forces of educational freedom are actually making some progress. We especially also want to thank Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who voted against NCLB as a congressman and remained consistent to vote against ECAA as a senator.  Also important to note is that Senators Mike Crapo (R-!D) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) voted for NCLB in 2001 and had the great sense to change their votes due to the major continued federal overreach, psychological profiling and expansion of invasive, Common Core aligned early childhood programs for ECAA and the strong work of the grassroots in their states.  They deserve great thanks for that!

It is very concerning that several senators look to be making the same disastrous mistake again of imposing punitive, ineffective, invasive, annual statewide testing on our students and teachers and all of the other flaws of NCLB that are falsely promised to be fixed in ECAA along with all of its new problems:

Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John McCain (R-AZ), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ECAA Co-Author Patty Murray (D-WA), Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL),  Debbie Stabenow (R-MI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) [James Inhofe (R-OK) voted against NCLB off the Senate floor, but voted for the final NCLB bill and voted in favor of ECAA].

Although the overall bill passed, there were a few small bright spots:

Senator Alexander listened to the grassroots and realized the huge error of removing the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments.  In an amendment adopted by voice vote on July 16th, he restored the prohibition in NCLB to make sure the state assessments “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.” Here are statements released by Emmett McGroarty of American Principle in Action and myself in praise of this result:

Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at American Principles in Action, said, “We are pleased that Senator Alexander has heard the concerns of parents and citizens and reinstated the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments. This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

Karen Effrem, M.D., president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, added, “We hope this is an indication that Congress is going to rein in the many other places in ECAA, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), and in early childhood programs where federal regulation authorizes the federal government to collect personal information on the dispositions, emotions, and attitudes of American children.”

The Senate also rejected, by a vote of 45-52, a universal preschool and home visiting program offered by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and others that would have been implemented on top of the already very concerning Preschool Alignment and Improvement Grants that we have explained.  Senator Alexander should be thanked for leading the opposition to this nanny state expansion, even invoking one of our talking points about “Baby Common Core,” instead calling it “Kindergarten Common Core.” All of the Republicans correctly voted against this bad amendment, except for Graham and Rubio, who did not vote. Sanders voted in support.

The Republican majority also rejected another huge expansion of mental health grants offered by North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp by a vote of 58-39 (60 votes were needed for passage). Given that there are already more than 10 other places that ECAA expands mental health programs and psychological profiling of our children, this amendment was completely duplicative and unnecessary. Of the presidential candidates, Paul and Rubio correctly voted no, Sanders voted yes, Cruz and Graham did not vote. All Democrats voted yes and all Republicans voted no except: Ayotte (NH), Cassiday (LA), Collins (ME), Daines (MT), Ernst (IA), Heller (NV), Kirk (IL), Moran (KS), Murkowski (AK), Portman (OH), Sullivan (AK), and Thune (SD).

Finally, the Republicans led by Alexander wisely rejected the Markey (D-MA) amendment (SA 2176) to establish a federal climate change education program. The amendment failed by a vote of 44-53. All of the Republicans exceot two joined by Democrats Heitkamp (ND) and Tester (MT) opposed this controversial and scientifically unsound language while all of the Democrats/Independents voted for it joined by Republicans Ayotte and Kirk.  Graham did not vote.

Here is a recap of some of the other important amendments and votes that were largely disappointing for those wanting educational freedom in this now approximately 1000 page bill based on category (Please see the Congress.gov website for all of the amendments offered with links to language and a list of status, the Senate website for specific roll call votes on the amendments and S 1177 itself, and Education Week  for other summaries.)

Continue reading »

Jul 17, 2015
ELW

One Small Bright Spot in Passage of ECAA – Restoration of Prohibition on Attitudinal Profiling in State Tests

The Senate rewrite of No Child Left Behind called the Every Child Achieves Act yesterday by a vote of 81-17.  Three of the four presidential candidates in the Senate – Cruz, Paul, and Rubio – voted against this terrible bill.  Graham did not vote.

The bill is still completely unacceptable and has many fatal problems, which we have detailed before and more information will be coming about amendments that passed during floor action, but there was one small ray of hope detailed in this statement put out by Emmett McGroarty of American Principles in Action and Dr. Effrem:

On Wednesday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) won approval on S.AMDT 2201, an amendment to S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which reauthorizes No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The amendment fixes one of the defects of ECAA – an omission of a key privacy and parental rights protection. Specifically, ECAA had omitted the requirement that the federally dictated statewide standardized tests “do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information.”

Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at American Principles in Action, said, “We are pleased that Senator Alexander has heard the concerns of parents and citizens and reinstated the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments. This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children.”

Karen Effrem, M.D., president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, added, “We hope this is an indication that Congress is going to rein in the many other places in ECAA, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), and in early childhood programs where federal regulation authorizes the federal government to collect personal information on the dispositions, emotions, and attitudes of American children.”

                                                                                    

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