Jun 20, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse – Obama’s School Discipline Policies Still Causing Widespread Chaos

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Dr Effrem’s latest article at the National Pulse contrasts the views of pro-family organizations who see the Obama era school discipline policy as a danger to student and staff safety and those who want to keep the policy  along with expanded mental screening and social emotional learning. Here is an excerpt:

Conservative, pro-family and pro-school safety groups continue to duke it out with progressive, pro-gun control, social justice warriors over the contentious school discipline issue. In general, the conservatives see the federal government’s Obama-era school discipline guidance as dangerous and want it repealed, while the progressives see it as a matter of “equity” and “social justice,” wanting it continued. The raging debate and stark contrast was on full display when one compares a letter sent to Betsy DeVos by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and an op-ed at Forbes.com by a liberal supporter of social emotional learning (SEL) and Common Core, Professor Linda Darling Hammond.

Read the full article here.

Jun 13, 2018

The National Pulse – “Social Emotional Learning” Advocates Are Still Ignoring Its Many Problems

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In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the problems associated with the roleout of social emotional learning. especially how tracking social emotional learning skills is far less accurate when predicting future success in students.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) — which receives our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to insinuate social emotional learning (SEL) standards and curriculum into every classroom in America from preschool on up — has found another voice to breathlessly tell us benighted parents and citizens that our children and their education will not survive unless and until SEL is everywhere. Giancarlo Brotto is the author of “The Future of Education Depends on Social Emotional Learning: Here’s Why,” the most recent piece of SEL cheerleading in EdSurge.

There are multiple problems with this piece. First, it ignores comments by SEL experts and proponents stating that there still is no good definition of SEL, as well as the negative SEL research. For example, Brotto did not mention this important study showing that academic skills in kindergarten are far more important than SEL in predicting academic achievement. Nor did he mention this meta-analysis, well discussed by Jane Robbins, showing that manipulating mindsets has no real effect on achievement.

You can view the full article at The National Pulse here.

The National Pulse – Texas School Safety “Action Plan” Contains More Problems than Solutions

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In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the new school safety initiatives out of Texas following the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, and the problematic use of mental health screenings.

The first element of the plan is to “provide mental health evaluations that identify students at risk of harming others and provide them with the help they need.” This is the Telemedicine Wellness Intervention Triage & Referral (TWITR) Project, one of the programs that I wrote about several weeks ago. This program sends troubled students, referred by teachers, for screening by licensed professional counselors and, if necessary, for two telemedicine sessions with psychiatrists. According to the program’s data sheet, nearly 42,000 students were “impacted” by the program, with 1 percent (about 400) referred for triage and 215 receiving the counseling sessions.

However, while it may be a step forward that those truly in need of counseling are receiving it, there are several issues not mentioned in the information given. One unmentioned issue is the false positive rate of the screening. Although it is likely to be better than a standard written or online screen, because the screening is done by a licensed mental health professional, as previously discussed, the psychiatric profession readily admits that diagnosis is not standardized but is rather a consensus judgment, and diagnosing children and adolescents is especially difficult due to rapid developmental changes. A 2016 international psychiatric conference also highlighted the crisis of consensus for that specialty.]

You can view the full article at the National Pulse here.

May 25, 2018

The National Pulse – America Must Improve Its Horrible Psychiatric Care for Veterans

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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.

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