Nov 20, 2018

The National Pulse – Parental Rights at Stake in Case of Minn. Mother and Teen “Emancipated” by State

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This article, written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse, highlights the story of the State of Minnesota emancipating a 17 year old boy from his mother after that mother refused to allow sex reassignment surgery for the teen.

It was this critical parental rights issue that Kaardal argued in the appeal based on the longstanding 2000 U.S. Supreme Court precedent Troxel v. Granville. This opinion affirms thousand of years of history and multiple other Supreme Court cases by making the constitutional “presumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their children.” Troxel also says that unless government entities can show evidence that the parent is not fit, there is “no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent’s children.”

Aside from this fundamental parental rights issue, there is the ongoing issue of the harm of gender dysphoria and the tragic “affirmation” of teens by major medical societies with life-altering puberty blocking drugs that result in sterility and sex-change surgery. Yet, according to both the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) and former Johns Hopkins chief of psychiatry, Dr. Paul McHugh, citing The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, “as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty,” and the suicide rate is 20 times higher for gender dysphoric adults who have undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery even in very LGBTQ-friendly countries like Sweden.

You can read the full article on The National Pulse’s website here.

Dr. Effrem’s National Pulse archive is available here.

Oct 25, 2018

The National Pulse – Falling ACT Scores Are Latest Evidence of Common Core’s Failure

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This article for The National Pulse written by Dr. Karen Effrem details the fall in college entrance exam scores as detailed by an ACT report, and how this fall in scores is related to the Common Core standards.

ACT, the publisher of one of the two most often used college entrance exams in the nation, recently released a major report, “The Condition of College and Career Readiness – National 2018,” that is another stunning indictment of the Common Core standards. Proponents of Common Core — the ones that forced acceptance of the standards in nearly all fifty states via federal economic coercion and bribes — claimed that college and career readiness would be the key metric improved by Common Core, and yet the ACT scores show readiness declining.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that “readiness levels in math and English have steadily declined since 2014.” These are the very subjects of the Common Core standards. It was promised by Bill Gates, former Governor Jeb Bush, the Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli and a host of other proponents that the new math and English standards would bring about celestial levels of college and career readiness because they were allegedly “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked.” Yet the decline in math and English ACT scores began in 2014, the same year that the standards were fully implemented in most states. How could that be?  

Here are some other key ACT results (emphases added) confirming the trend:

“The national average ACT Composite score for the 2018 graduating class was 20.8, down from 21.0 last year but the same as in 2016. Average scores in English, mathematics, reading, and science all dropped between 0.1 and 0.3 point compared to last year.

“The percentage of students meeting at least three of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the four core subject areas was 38% for the 2018 US high school graduating class, down from 39% last year but the same as in 2016.

Thirty- five percent of 2018 graduates met none of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 31% in 2014 and from 33% last year.

The national results are bad enough, but it should also be noted that many individual states making up that average had declines as well. This includes Florida, which has suffered as a laboratory for the Common Core standards and test-based accountability reforms for the last 20 years. Bush and company bragged about Florida’s performance on the 2017 NAEP results, which is given to a very select sample of Florida students. However, of the states that showed an improvement on NAEP, many of them, including Florida, had the American Institutes for Research (AIR) as its state test vendor. AIR admitted in its Florida contract that it performs “test development, psychometric analysis [and] validity studies” for the NAEP, so it is quite possible that an advantage is created taking the NAEP because of states using AIR that has nothing to do with academic achievement.

While Florida’s NAEP improvement may or may not be real, there is little that is praiseworthy about the Sunshine State’s ACT results, taken by a much less pre-selected sample and serving as a broader indicator of test-based education achievement. Florida’s 2018 average ACT composite score is 19.9, nearly one full point below the national average of 20.8 and basically the same as last year’s score of 19.8 and as the 2014 score of 19.6. The percentages of Florida’s student population as a whole meeting the college readiness benchmarks in math and English have remained below the national average and basically unchanged since 2014.

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

Oct 17, 2018

The National Pulse – Flawed Report Uses Pseudoscience to Promote “Social Emotional Learning”

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This article written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse, discusses a recent report put out by the National Commission on Social Emotional and Academic Learning and its problems.

Focus on Victimhood and Identity Politics

There is much discussion in the paper about issues such as “stereotype threat” and how “if one’s cultural beliefs and values feel at odds with those of the dominant cultural group, the conflict can cause misalignment between a person’s goals and ways of being and the expectations of the setting.” To fix this perceived cultural oppression in the schools, they want government “interventions and supports in the home, school, or community that specifically target cultural well-being [to] improve educational, socioeconomic, and health outcomes.” This social justice focus is not at all surprising given that one of the paper’s authors is Linda Darling Hammond, co-chair of this commission as well as co-chair of the Collaborative for Academic Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) and radical terrorist Bill Ayers’ choice to be Secretary of Education under President Obama.

No Attention to Breakdown of the Family

The government subsidy of fatherless families has been happening since the 1960s, and the sociological problems with that approach have been documented since the 1970s beginning with Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The myriad of studies and articles documenting the downsides of growing up in a single-parent household and collated at wonderful websites like Marripedia is completely ignored in this paper. These downsides include increased social emotional distress and mental illness, school problems and failure, acting out, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy and drug use. Any paper that makes recommendations about the social emotional, cultural and family status of children without discussing the research around this issue and making recommendations for reversing this destructive policy doesn’t merit much consideration.

Conflicts of Interest

The list of funders for this commission contains all of the usual suspects — including the Gates Foundation. Three of the funders for this commission are foundations tied to corporations that have profited or will profit handsomely from the expansion of SEL curriculum, monitoring software (Microsoft/Gates) and hardware (Hewlett Packard/Hewlett), or from psychiatric medication when a child is falsely labeled abnormal by these subjective standards and mental screening tools and referred to a mental health professional (Johnson & Johnson/Robert Wood Johnson [RWJ]).

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

Dr. Effrem’s National Pulse archive is available here.

The National Pulse – New Report Reveals the Twin Dangers of Common Core and School Choice

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This article for The National Pulse written by Dr. Karen Effrem analyzes the risks associated with school choice and how it could be another way which the proponents of Common Core use to require the standards be applied to private and charter schools.

A thorough new white paper from the Pioneer Institute titled “Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards-Based Reform” expertly discusses the mountain of evidence showing the flaws and failures of the Common Core standards and their aligned curriculum, as well as how damaging the centralized standards reform movement is to school choice. The report is authored by Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom; Theodor Rebarber, head of the nonprofit AccountabilityWorks; and Patrick J. Wolf, Distinguished Professor of Education Policy at the University of Arkansas.

With regard to the quality and success of the Common Core standards, the report discusses the recent declines in math in 4th and 8th grade on the NAEP and the lack of improvement internationally. NAEP reading scores were also stagnant in 4th and 8th grade, with lower scores for struggling students.

Sending public funds to private schools, especially religious ones, greatly risks opening these private schools to control by the state, which will eventually mean imposition of public Common Core curriculum on private schools. Given the support for this program among the same corporate establishment groups described above, this seems to be what a significant portion of these pro-Common Core groups have wanted all along.

That is why seeing the apparent takeover of conservative Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis’ campaign by these establishment forces is so disconcerting to education freedom advocates and anti-Common Core parents who helped him win the primary. Instead of keeping his promise to get rid of Common Core, his platform now speaks of merely doing a review of the standards, which is what was used to rebrand but not significantly change Common Core in Florida and other states. There is also much promotion of school choice without addressing the dangers of Common Core-aligned testing and curriculum. All of this is then endorsed by Jeb Bush, whose promotion of Common Core was an electoral disaster. This is potentially a significant reason why DeSantis’ campaign has been having difficulties since the primary.

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

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