Feb 12, 2017
ELW

ELW Written Testimony for the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

 

 

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) held its third public hearing on February 9th. This is the organization put into place after President Obama signed a bill authored by Speaker Paul Ryan. CEP is hearing testimony and being urged to recommend lifting the prohibition on a student-unit record system and other issues in order to make longitudinal data on individual American citizens more accessible to government agencies and researchers. Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project previously testified about the dangers of this idea.

All of the written and audio information from that hearing is available HERE. Dr. Effrem’s written testimony is available on that page at this link.

After covering the lack of constitutionality, the dangers inherent in the strong likelihood that subjective social emotional data will be added, the already  large amount of evidence that government education programs are very ineffective, and that data security in the US Department of Education is very weak, these were her recommendations:

1. Retain the prohibition of a student unit-record system.

2. Strongly consider a moratorium on further federal research until programs already shown to be ineffective and harmful are transformed or eliminated and until effective measures are actually implemented.

3. Prohibit social emotional data-gathering and the use of data for predictive testing in the FERPA and Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) reauthorizations.

4. Put in strict data-transparency language and update the data-security language per the recommendations of technical experts like Dr. Joel Reidenberg or Barmak Nassirian in any FERPA reauthorization.

5. Require third-party software and testing vendors to notify parents of what data is collected on students and how it is used.

6. Find a way for students whose identity and privacy is compromised to be compensated, in addition to penalizing researchers or private vendors that breach data-security.

7. Close the curriculum and assessment loophole for invasive surveys in the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.

8. Demand that the US Department of Education immediately repair the federal data-security failures found in the Inspector General’s recent report and uncovered by the House Oversight Committee.

It will be important to monitor the recommendations of this commission to Congress and to speak out against any suggestions harmful to citizen, and especially student, data and psychological privacy. Stay tuned.

Feb 11, 2017
ELW

Urgent! Submit Comments Against Global Pre-K SEL Data Mining

 

Please submit comments before MIDNIGHT, MONDAY 2/13 opposing this latest global taxpayer funded psychological data mining scheme of our youngest children for invasive, ineffective, and harmful government pre-K programs at the federal register. It can be as short as:

I oppose this latest study because there are already dozens of studies showing that preschool is minimally effective, that beneficial effects fade with time or is academically and emotionally harmful. Social emotional assessment, especially for young children, is extraordinarily subjective and unreliable, violates parental autonomy, and the private right of conscience of free American citizens. This is especially true when data security within the U.S. Department of Education is so poor.

You can also do something more in depth. Here are details:

The federal government is joining with the globalists at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in a new study that seeks to expand social emotional data gathering (psychological profiling) on our very youngest children, collect sensitive family information and try yet again to show that preschool is effective when there are so many studies to the contrary. Here is the pertinent language from the federal register notice:

FR Doc No: 2016-29749
Abstract: The International Early Learning Study (IELS), scheduled to be conducted in 2018, is a new study sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. In the United States, the IELS is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The IELS focuses on young children and their cognitive and non-cognitive skills and competencies as they transition to primary school. The IELS is designed to examine: children’s early learning and development in a broad range of domains, including social emotional skills as well as cognitive skills; the relationship between children’s early learning and children’s participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC); the role of contextual factors, including children’s individual characteristics and their home backgrounds and experiences, in promoting young children’s growth and development; and how early learning varies across and within countries prior to beginning primary school. In 2018, in the participating countries, including the United States, the IELS will assess nationally-representative samples of children ages 5.0-5.5 years (in kindergarten in the United States) through direct and indirect measures, and will collect contextual data about their home learning environments, ECEC histories, and demographic characteristics.

We have warned for years of the dangers and ineffectiveness of both government preschool programs and the indoctrination and profiling inherent in social emotional learning. This study combines the worst of both. Here is our bullet list of why this study should be opposed:

1) According to this compilation of over two dozen studies, there is already plenty of evidence that, at best, preschool is only minimally effective and there is significant evidence that these programs cause academic and emotional harm.

2) With so much evidence of ineffectiveness and harm, there is no reason to embark on yet another study at taxpayer expense.

3) This data gathering is unconstitutional – There is no constitutional, statutory or moral authority for the federal government to create standards and norms for the attitudes, values and beliefs, for innocent American citizens, conduct psychological research on them and to keep this data in perpetuity in federally mandated state longitudinal databases that according to this proposal are going to be shared with a large international agency with unknown data privacy protection standards.

4) It goes against several Supreme Court precedents affirming parent’s inherent rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

5) These types of standards and questions are highly subjective, especially when used for young children, as admitted by leading experts and organizations in the fields of education and mental health.

6) Overworked, untrained teachers essentially become psychotherapists to their classrooms of patients.

7) There is a clear link to Common Core and potential for both indoctrination and danger to student and family freedom of conscience covering such controversial topics as climate change, Buddhist mindfulness techniques, social justice, transgenderism and the LGBT agenda.

8) Because of the weak and gutted federal privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), this very sensitive data can be shared with various agencies of the federal government and third parties and re-disclosed and used for “predictive tests,” which are notoriously subjective and inaccurate. Data may then well be used to make life altering decisions for children affecting college entrance, employment, etc.

9) According to information uncovered by the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings, the state of data security at the US Department of Education is appallingly bad, so this sensitive data, that the government should not have in the first place, is not safe from hackers. We have no idea what the data protection situation is at OECD.

Feb 10, 2017
ELW

DeVos Confirmed by Historically Narrow Margin

Thank you to all who contacted the U.S. Senate. Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate on February 7th by a razor-thin one vote margin of 51-50 and only after Vice-President Mike Pence was called on to break the tie for the first time in  American history.

Jeb Bush and the Establishment wing of the GOP were thrilled with her confirmation, while there was much disappointment from all points on the political spectrum, but especially by the “grassroots education activists from across the country who were looking to Trump to begin the dismantling of the federal education department,” the “constitutionalist base of the GOP,” as noted by Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart. She reported the comments of several important experts and leaders of that group and their recommendations for now Secretary DeVos:

Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:

DeVos should make it clear that states won’t be penalized in any way if they ditch the Common Core national standards and the aligned tests. She should minimize the federal influence on state education policies any way she can, letting states chart their own courses as they’re entitled to do under the Constitution. She should eliminate the policy of federal bribery and threats to get the states to adopt certain policies. If the federal ESSA law gets in the way of this, or of her winding down the US Department of Education, she should recommend legislative changes to reinstate local control.

Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute:

“The best things DeVos could do to demonstrate a commitment to scaling back federal involvement in education would be to issue ESSA regulations that really leave decisions up to state and local governments, and refrain from endorsing big federal school choice initiatives…The former is the right thing to do no matter what, and the latter would show that she knows that even something demonstrably good—school choice—is not something that Washington is either constitutionally permitted to advance (outside of DC itself, for military families, and on Native American reservations), nor is it wise to extend federal tentacles into truly independent schools.”

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition:

Dr. Karen Effrem, president of the Florida-based Education Liberty Watch, tells Breitbart News parents want DeVos to fulfill Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, shrink the federal education department, and protect student data privacy.

“Parents do not want Betsy DeVos to implement the views and philosophy of Jeb Bush, who was soundly defeated because of his support of Common Core and highly regulated school choice,” Effrem asserts, and suggests that DeVos “does everything she can to work herself out of a job by shrinking the USED.”

Additionally, Effrem recommends DeVos “promptly accept any state plans as is her purview under ESSA even if they totally repeal Common Core and defer to parents about opting out of the state tests.”

“At the very least,” she continues, DeVos should also “make sure that any kind of school choice effort coming from DC to the states does not require the states to implement the Common Core/state tests on private or home schools.”

Anne Marie Banfield, parent activist and education liaison for Cornerstone in New Hampshire

“People like Bill Evers, Sandra Stotsky or Peg Luksik have been fighting against the Common Core reforms, supportive of parental rights and understand the problems with the federal overreach we’ve been fighting against,” she says. “Any one of those three would have been a huge improvement over DeVos based on her record of supporting Common Core in the past. Now we have to ‘hope’ for the best when we had the best available for this position.”

At the same time Mrs. Devos was being confirmed Freedom Caucus member and Kentucky Republican was offering a bill, HR 899, that seeks to abolish the USED. In a statement, he said:

“Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”

Secretary DeVos said in her first speech at USED:

“I am here to serve – with you. I am committed to working with everyone and anyone – from every corner of the country, from every walk of life, from every background, and with those who supported my nomination and with those who did not – to protect, strengthen, and create new world-class education opportunities for America’s students.”

Let us hope this is more than rhetoric and that she will follow through on that commitment while she is serving as the last US Secretary of Education.

Feb 6, 2017
ELW

Final DeVos Vote Tuesday 2/7 – Make Your Voice Heard!

 

 

After skating by with a one vote margin in her HELP Committee confirmation vote, two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME), have announced their opposition to her confirmation. Unless another Republican joins them, the vote will be 50-50 and the tie will be broken by Vice-President Pence. Michelle MalkinSusan Berry  at Breitbart, Jane Robbins at APP, and Joy Pullman at the Federalist, there has been near silence in the media. DeVos and the Jeb Bush team being placed at USED will undermine the Trump education promises to the grassroots parents.

Please send the talking points HERE or in this document to any Senate Republicans in your own state and to any of the rest at this Senate contact information and social media directory from PatriotJournalist.com or to the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Thank you!!

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