Browsing articles in "Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health"

The National Pulse: There He Goes Again: Jeb Bush Still Interfering in Education

Dr. Karen Effrem’s recent Florida Legislative testimony bears witness to sound advice falling on deaf ears.

“This would be especially tragic for our already beleaguered school districts, because this concept of tying NAEP proficiency to state test achievement levels has NO, and I repeat NO support in the government and research communities. The National Center for Education Statistics that administers the NAEP, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, The National Academy of Education, and the Brookings Institute all say that proficiency on the NAEP and achievement levels on state tests like the FSA are completely unrelated and should have nothing to do with each other.”



There He Goes Again: Jeb Bush Still Interfering in Education

The National Pulse: New Utah Bill Shows Common Core Still Alive and Dangerous

Please pay attention to this bill and ones like it in your own states. The freedom and futures of our children and the nation depend on our vigilance and willingness to take a stand.

Although a state-level bill, the psychological manipulation, and tracking via Common Core and CBE are nationwide and dangerous. Parents across the nation were originally told by Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, and their minions that Common Core was nothing but a set of “high” academic standards in English and math. Moms and dads are furious when they learn that schools and the corporate/big government establishment are using their children as guinea pigs and see them merely as chattel for the global labor force.

New Utah Bill Shows Common Core Still Alive and Dangerous


Jan 20, 2017

Review of the DeVos Confirmation Hearing

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President

Betsy DeVos at her 1/17/17 Confirmation Hearing

I strongly agree with Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts that Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Education was not terribly informative. Aside from a brief mention of Common Core by Senator Cassidy (R-LA) where she said she wouldn’t mandate it from the secretarial level and her answer to a question from Senator Alexander (R-TN, chairman of the HELP Committee holding the hearing) that she wouldn’t implement school choice from the federal level, none of the major concerns in our national parent coalition letter about Common Core, privacy, and school choice were asked or answered.

Here is a brief discussion of several issues that did come up and those that should be closely monitored during her control of the U.S. Department of Education:

Common Core – Mrs. DeVos answered Senator Cassidy’s brief yes or no question, that she would not continue Common Core from the federal level. it is interesting that she said in her prepared opening statement:

And every teacher in America dreams of breaking free from standardization, so that they can deploy their unique creativity and innovate with their students.

If she wants teachers to “break free from standardization” how is it that she has supported national standards and standardized tests that require “standardized” teaching for so long?

However, as stated in numerous writings by many anti-Common Core experts and activists, the foundation of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates the Common Core by imposing secretarial veto of state plans and requiring states’ compliance with eleven different federal laws all mandating statewide standards and tests that are Common Core even if not labeled such. How she implements ESSA will be critical.

Federal School Choice – While it was somewhat reassuring that she said that she would not support a federal school choice law,  her answers about wanting accountability combined with her record of support for very regulated voucher plans in Indiana and Louisiana that require administration of the state (Common Core) tests along with that strong push by her allies John Engler of the Business Round Table and Michael Petrilli of Fordham as well as most of the Democrats is extremely concerning for the autonomy and viability of private schools. Education freedom groups across the nation, including Education Liberty Watch, Eagle Forum and the Cato Institute are all very concerned.

Implementation of ESSA

  • We hope that she is extremely liberal with waivers for state plans that seek to truly eliminate Common Core and the associated federally mandated state tests in favor of various state options or changes the regulations altogether. This is the best way in our view that Donald Trump can keep his promise to get rid of Common Core.
  • It is also critical that she not favor or implement any kind of social emotional/21st Century skills standards or assessment programs in ESSA or its accountability scheme. This was one of our questions and is also an issue in the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) and the subject of a national commission.

Data Privacy – This topic did not come up during the hearing. Betsy DeVos  chaired the Philanthropy Roundtable, which published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour”

  • Senator Hatch seemed to be promoting the lifting of the prohibition on the student unit record system which would then allow data mining and a federal dossier on students from cradle to career. This was one of our questions and this idea must be firmly resisted.
  • The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was gutted by regulatory fiat during the Obama administration. At the very least, those privacy protections must be restored and preferably expanded to deal with all of the online data mining that is happening with technology-based education. Privacy was mentioned by Mr. Trump and was one of our questions not addressed during the hearings. It would be a huge improvement even to return to the previous regulations.

Preschool – Senator Isakson (R-GA) made the following very alarming statement during the hearing (1:02:55):

“She [Senator Murray] talked about her goal and my goal which we’ve shared with each other, that is to work toward requiring 4 year old prekindergarten for every student in the country…” (Emphasis added).

Thankfully DeVos demurred with her standard, “If confirmed, I look forward to working with you on…” statement. However, given how ineffective, harmful, invasive and expensive these programs are, including in Georgia, expanding preschool like this would be a “disaster” of Trumpian proportions.

GLBT issues – This was a key issue pushed by the Democrats and while we agree with her that no student deserves discrimination or harassment, we would have felt much better if she had also said that she also cared about protecting the First Amendment free speech, freedom of assembly and religious rights of all students and families. It will be important to see how she deals with the Title IX guidance.

Guns in Schools –  Her response on guns in schools satisfied no one. While right that it is a states’ issue, the “grizzly bear” response was quite ineffective. Far more satisfying would have been a mention that almost all school shooters have been on psychotropic medications at the time of their crimes, including Knewtown, Connecticut, the home state of Senator Murphy (D). These drugs have the well-known side effect of violent, murderous reactions in certain individuals and that guns in the hands of responsible concealed permit holders would likely reduce the carnage in these incidents as it did in Pearl, Mississippi and other mass shootings.

What’s Next – Betsy DeVos was required to have her letter from the government ethics agency documenting that she would serve with no financial conflicts of interest by the end of today as President-elect Trump takes the oath of office in order to have her committee confirmation vote on January 24th. We will see if that happens and what comes next. Please consider contacting the Senate HELP Committee members and your own senators with the concerns we have listed.

Jan 15, 2017

New Social Emotional Standards Make Common Core Look Tame


Karen R. Effrem, MD & Jane Robbins

The battle over who will direct the hearts and minds of children is intensifying. Within the dangerous labyrinth of Common Core standards, testing, and data-mining is the even more concerning ramp-up of social emotional learning (SEL). Parents and teachers who believe in genuine education rather than pseudo-psychological evaluation are facing off against bipartisan big government and its affiliated corporations and foundations. An update:

This summer (2016) the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) announced it had chosen eight states to collaborate on creating K-12 SEL standards. All K-12 students would be measured on five “noncognitive” factors: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, including ethical decision-making. As we’ve written, the result is that overworked, untrained teachers essentially become psychotherapists to their classrooms of patients. Other problems we’ve warned about include subjectivity of the standards and assessments, indoctrination, danger to freedom of conscience, data-mining, and inadequate security of this sensitive data that resides for eternity in longitudinal databases.

Less than two months later, two CASEL states (Tennessee and Georgia) have already withdrawn from the initiative. Parents have begun to realize the dangers of SEL and to challenge their schools’ robotic march toward psychological manipulation of children. Interestingly, CASEL has removed the list of other states involved (California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington) from its altered website about the project. Either it’s embarrassed at losing 25% of its cohort or trying to hide from further parental opposition, or both.

Undeterred, CASEL presses forward. The group joined the liberal Aspen Institute’s new National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, led by CASEL board member Linda Darling-Hammond (the radical education professor whom terrorist Bill Ayers recommended to be Obama’s Secretary of Education). This commission is funded by the same gallery of rogues – including the ubiquitous Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — that have funded the pro-Common Core, pro-progressive education schemes of recent history.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR), publisher of many state Common Core tests and key SEL proponent, is also represented on the commission. AIR is also heavily involved in promoting the controversial LGBT agenda.

Parents should know about the agendas of CASEL and some of these important partnerships involved in the SEL effort.

CASEL has a definite ideological tilt. It’s funded partly by the federal government’s Institute for Education Sciences — the same agency that wants to assess mindsets in the National Assessment of Educational Progress and to have social emotional research become a federal mandate — and partly by a range of liberal foundations. These foundations promote socialized healthcare and bemoan the effect of climate change on “health and equity” (Robert Wood Johnson); push Buddhist “mindfulness” techniques (1440); and seek to use SEL to promote social-justice theories and transgenderism (NoVo).

How might CASEL use SEL to advance its partners’ agendas in areas such as healthcare, climate regulation, and sexual politics? This Cleveland eighth-grade standard referenced on the CASEL website creates gender confusion by asking students to “[i]dentify what you like about yourself, including things that might be considered atypical for your gender.” Sample lessons offered by a CASEL partner called Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility teach students the perils of climate change and fracking and encourage students to “take action toward transgender equity.” Thus does CASEL’s SEL accomplish its partners’ desires to change the world.

The criteria for SEL are so subjective that ideologues can twist them into almost anything. Suppose SEL curricula and guidelines adopted the argument of some psychiatrists that “extreme racism” and “extreme homophobia” should be classified as mental disorders. Could students then be “diagnosed” for those disorders, and perhaps treated with dangerous antipsychotics, as California prisoners have been? Already children have been screened without consent and forcibly treated with these drugs as a result of school-related mental-health programs. How far will this go?

At the very least, parents might object if SEL is used to turn their children into worker bees for the global economy. Former Michigan Governor John Engler, now chairman of the Business Roundtable (BRT), co-chairs the National SEL Commission. BRT has long promoted Common Core, SEL skills development, and treating children as widgets in the labor-supply chain.

In fact, BRT’s education and workforce committee chairman was Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who called American students “defective” “products” if schools don’t “step up the performance level,” apparently by implementing Common Core. BRT member Exxon is also a major funder of the data-mining, including SEL data, of the Data Quality Campaign. (We’ve provided an abundance of evidence of the coordinated effort by these business, government, and foundation entities to assess, record, and analyze personal characteristics of children.) When Hillary Clinton and Marc Tucker’s Goals 2000 and School-to-Work first made SEL part of the federal education lexicon for workforce-development, BRT was cheering them on.

SEL is the embodiment of what government schools should not be doing to children. Parents and other citizens must stand against this tyranny of the mind by vigorously opposing these programs, refusing to elect leaders that support them, and demanding that legislators defund them.


NOTE: This article was originally published at Conservative Review under the title Think Common Core is bad? New standards crank up the creep-factor to 11 on about November 20, 2016 but was lost after website revisions.