The National Pulse – Gov. Ron DeSantis Takes Important Step to End Common Core in Florida

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This article written for The National Pulse by Dr. Karen Effrem describes the aftermath of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement to issue an executive order to end Common Core education statewide. This announcement, made in Cape Coral Florida, comes after campaign promises to end the use of Common Core standards. Skeptics are worried that this could just be another re-branding of the standards as has been done in the past, yet, they are hopeful that this announcement will result in substantive change.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis followed through on an oft-repeated campaign pledge to “end the last vestiges” of Common Core in the Sunshine State. He signed Executive Order 19-32 that directs Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to “comprehensively review the academic standards for Florida’s Kindergarten through grade twelve students and provide recommended revisions to Governor DeSantis.

There has been concern expressed among activists that this may be another attempt to rebrand Common Core, as done under the Rick Scott administration and in multiple other states. And frankly, Florida activists were concerned about DeSantis’ change from speaking of “getting rid of Common Core” to merely doing a “review” during his general election campaign, suspecting that the reigning pro-Common Core political establishment was hijacking the governor’s conservative instinct.

However, it is highly significant that Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran admitted the standards under the previous administration were Common Core rebranded. I believe that if the DeSantis administration were merely pursuing another rebrand effort, they could have just gone along with the well-worn but false claim that Common Core was already gone from this state.

The other piece of evidence that leads me to believe this is a genuine and well-intended effort is that there has been absolute media silence about the effort to get rid of Common Core from Jeb Bush’s very pro-Common Core foundations.

For now, in addition to Governor DeSantis, the parent and grandparent activists across Florida and the nation deserve great credit and thanks for not giving up during this enormous, protracted David-and-Goliath battle. Please gear up for the next phase of this long war. Our children and our nation need you to continue the legacy of our Founders. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

You can find the full article here at The National Pulse’s website. There is also information at the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition website.


Jan 25, 2019

The National Pulse – 6 Big Problems with Latest “Social Emotional Learning” Report

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This National Pulse article written by Dr. Karen Effrem outlines what makes the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development’s new report on the use of social emotional learning in public education problematic. More specifically, how the report failed to complete fundamental and controversial issues with the teaching method such as invasion of privacy, federal overreach, etc…

1.) The Commission promotes the care and development of the “whole child” as an individual while simultaneously pushing standardized SEL teaching and assessment via “state standards, guidance, and frameworks” and the trend toward machine based skills training (including SEL training and assessment) via competency-based and personalized learning.

This is an oxymoron. If there are at least nine different names for SEL and schools are supposed to help children grow into their best individual selves, than how can there be SEL standards at all? The answer lies in the career focus of SEL.

2.) The Commission wants to expand SEL research, despite the lack of scientific and policy consensus on a definition of SEL and the existence of many SEL studies that have flaws and mixed or negative results.

We have discussed this aspect a number of times (see here and here for example). Even proponents and SEL experts admit there are problems with the research. This includes research on the academic achievement, brain science, and genetics aspects of SEL to name a few. In many ways, it is like the research on preschool described above or that of psychiatric drugs. There are grand claims initially for these programs or products, but with time and further scrutiny, the claims fall apart like wet tissue paper.

3.) The final report only contains two token mentions of privacy, which is gravely endangered by the SEL and the ed-tech phenomena.

The rate and extent of social emotional data collection — via federal assessments like the NAEP and federally mandated state assessments, education technology companies like Knewton and Dream Box that are collecting millions of data points per student per day, and foreign entities like OECD and China — is becoming difficult to follow. That is why the gutting of the federal privacy law, FERPA, during the Obama administration and the recent passage of FEPA that will create a de facto national database is all the more maddening.

4.) The Commission believes that there will be no federal control or interference for states and districts implementing SEL — even while one of their interim reports lists scores of federal programs supporting those concepts.

No kidding. After the Commission policy brief lists 111 different federal programs in 8 different federal agencies, plus the Corporation for National and Public Service that can be “leveraged” to achieve their SEL nirvana, Commission co-chairman Tim Shriver and putative conservative Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute solemnly intone that the report “should not be mistaken for an invitation to federal policymakers” to get involved in SEL.

5.) The Commission believes that somehow teachers can and will want to “develop expertise in child development and in the science of learning” with all of their other burdens, when there is no clear consensus on the science of SEL and in the midst of national teacher shortage.

Wonderful, experienced teachers are leaving the profession in droves because they are forced to teach the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core while they are monitored on everything they teach via poorly validated tests that affect their pay and tenure via incomprehensible algorithms, have their desired curriculum removed from their classrooms, and are required to act as amateur psychologists in order to prevent school shootings and suicide.

6.) The Commission expects that SEL programs and curriculum will fill the cavernous social emotional void for the millions of children growing up in fatherless homes.

The statistics are overwhelming that children — especially boys — from fatherless homes have more SEL problems. Examples include:

Significantly higher juvenile crime rates

279 percent increased likelihood of carrying a gun

Externalizing behavior problems as early as one year of age

The full article can be found here on The National Pulse’s website.

Jan 15, 2019

The National Pulse – Corporate America Continues to Treat Students as Widgets

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In this article, found here, written for The National Pulse by Dr. Karen Effrem, the issues of corporations and education policy makers dehumanizing students are discussed. Specifically, the problems with treating the education system as primarily a job training program are brought to light.

This education-as-workforce-preparation approach has also led to the imposition of Common Core, competency-based/personalized learning with its machine-based skills training, and the massive data collection and social emotional/personality profiling via education technology occurring in many schools. As chronicled here and other places in detail, this is all very dangerous to academic achievementprivacyfreedom of conscience, and being able to choose one’s own destiny.

But most importantly, it is not the right or the function of corporations or the federal government to treat people like widgets for their own use. Donohue mentioned in his speech that the Chamber is involved in what he terms the “Talent Pipeline Management.” This is analogous to former Exxon Mobil CEO and major Common Core proponent Rex Tillerson’s description of a student as a “product at the end of that high school graduation…Now is that product in a form that we, the customer, can use it? Or is it defective, and we’re not interested?”

These businesses and organizations do not have the right or authority to treat our children as mere links in their labor supply chain and to manipulate sensitive data (including social emotional and personality data often collected without consent via murky algorithms) to slot and shunt people into jobs according to the desires of Big Business and Big Government. Joy Pullman at The Federalist explains just how egregious and dangerous to our children and country this crony control really is:

You can find the entire article here on The National Pulse’s website.

Jan 11, 2019

Anti-Privacy Database Bill Set to Become Law without Trump Veto

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This article written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse is an alert regarding a new bill in the House that will invade student’s privacy.

HR 4174, the privacy-crushing de facto national database bill discussed here earlier this week and recently at Townhall, will become law as early as tomorrow, January 12th, without a presidential veto. Economic and privacy experts are gravely concerned about this bill due to its potential to expand the welfare state and planned economy and an increased vulnerability of government data to hacking. This will also affect our children due to the ever-expanding mountain of data collected on them through education technology and state longitudinal databases as well as the weakening of FERPA, the federal privacy law.

Although much is happening with the border crisis and the government shutdown, concerned citizens must keep up the pressure. A new way to raise awareness is to take a few minutes to share these 50 tweetsprovided by our friends at Patriot Journalist to explain how dangerous this data mining legislation really is and then to alert your friends. You may also continue to email the president here. (The White House comment line is not taking calls due to the shutdown.)

Other details are available at these resources:

Stop FEPA Facebook Page

Rebuttal to House Staff “Myths and Facts” on HR 4174

Summary of HR 4174/S 2046, The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act

Parent Activists: Data-Sharing ‘Grinch’ Bill Will Create ‘De Facto National Database’” by Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart

What is FEPA?

Radio Interview on FEPA by Dr. Karen Effrem with the American Family Association of Pennsylvania

Radio Interview on HR 4174 by Dr. Mary Byrne with Morning Coffee (Missouri)

Talking Points to Veto FEPA by Dr. Mary Byrne

Paul Ryan’s Trojan Horse for the Welfare State” by economist Sven Lundgren at AIER explaining how this bill expands the swamp on welfare, health care and other issues

Privacy-Crushing FEPA Bill #HR4174: 10 Nitty Gritty Facts You Missed #VETO !” by Cristel Swayze at “What is Common Core”

Michelle Malkin on Tucker Carlson Explaining Dangers of Ed Tech in Schools

Please take this stand for your privacy and futures and those of your children! Thank you!