The National Pulse – Florida Seeks to Expand Ineffective Mental Health Screening in Schools

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In her recent article for the National Pulse, Dr. Effrem discusses the failings of mental health data collection surrounding recent school violence.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) held a conference to discuss how to expand school-based mental health that was attended by the state’s 67 superintendents as well as several legislators and agency heads.

Broward County Superintendent and FADSS president Robert Runcie led the meeting. Runcie was superintendent during the February 2018 shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Runcie and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel are under intense scrutiny for ignoring or downplaying violent acts and threats by many students, including shooter Nikolas Cruz.

School officials ignored multiple felonious threats that Cruz made to various students, despite reports of them to those officials. Teachers and other school staff all over the country have noted how unsafe schools have become since the trend of not reporting school violence based on race and disability status — an approach pioneered in Broward County — spread nationwide under the Obama administration. Also, as previously reported, Cruz was well known to the mental health system, having been in an alternative school due to behavior problems; had been medicated for ADHD; and was being treated for depression, possibly with medication, at the time of his crimes.

As in the Texas situation, mental health data mining is a big deal. Superintendents from small, rural counties were told that in order to keep the money spigot open, the outcomes data for their mental health programs is “essential.” What the superintendents and legislators do not understand is how subjective and inaccurate mental health data and surveys that pull students into these programs — particularly screening and social emotional learning (SEL) surveys, as well as universal behavioral modification and outcome data — can be. We have previously discussed the Columbia Teen Screen survey that was only correct about 16 percent of time in accurately finding teens that actually had mental health issues requiring follow-up (called the Positive Predictive Value or PPV). Another review showed that only two of nine commonly used depression screening scales had a PPV at fifty percent, or no better than a coin flip.

You may read the full article here.

Apr 25, 2018
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Supporting Day of Silence Walkout

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An important event is designed to protest and counter the rapid erosion of parental rights in schools around GLBT issues and is happening on Friday, April 27th.  The Day of Silence Walkout is promoted by nearly four dozen national and state organizations, including the American Family Association, the Illinois Family Institute, Liberty Counsel, The Child Protection League, and Education Liberty Watch. The walkout is intended to counter the disruption of class time by students and or teachers that will remain silent during an entire day to promote the political agenda of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and “its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.”

 

Parents are being urged to call their children out of school if their high school, and an increasing number of middle schools, allow students and or teachers to remain silent during instructional time on this day. The goals are to “actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes;” to “reclaim a proper understanding of the role, and limits of public education;” and to “de-politicize the learning environment.” Parents are given a host of resources on the site to deal with the logistics of participation and the reasoning behind it.

Parents, Teachers, and Administrators: What to Do on Day of Silence

Reasons for the Day of Silence Walkout

Instructions for Parents

Sample Call Out Letter

This is a great opportunity to assert parental rights and to protect children’s innocence. Please join the movement!

Apr 23, 2018
ELW

The American Spectator: The Latest Creepy Orwellian Education Tactic

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Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, and Dr. Karen Effrem analyzed the latest example of psychological experimentation and manipulation of our students at the American Spectator. Here is an excerpt:

The failure to obtain consent from the research subjects — a tactic that SEL proponents didn’t deem even worth mentioning — illustrates the dangerous road that lies ahead for students from pre-K through college. The SEL pushers seem to simply assume that corporations and their allied government schools have the right to conduct psychological experiments on unsuspecting students.

The point of the Pearson experiment, as well as other SEL schemes, isn’t just to help students do their best — it’s to change their behavior and indeed their personalities in fundamental ways. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which wields tremendous influence over education practices globally, plans to use data from its new SEL profile for “personality development.” For instance, OECD identifies extroversion” as one of the “Big Five” personality traits that schools should assess and develop. So now the government has determined that introverted children are defective, and that SEL tactics should be employed to turn them into something they’re not?

As British professor Williamson noted, “’It’s concerning that forms of low-level psychological experimentation to trigger certain behaviors appear to be happening in the ed-tech sector, and students might not know those experiments are taking place.’”

The Pearson report doesn’t see the problem. The report touts “the possibility of leveraging commercial educational software for new research into the emerging science around students’ attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking about themselves.” Indeed. And when corporations and the government learn how to influence “attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking,” is there any limit to what they can do? Can they counteract the effect of family and faith on political or social issues? Can they mold students to be passive, uncritical receptors of information — information carefully monitored by the same corporations and government?

This is another reason that the federal student privacy law, FERPA, must be overhauled – so that American students are not forced to participate in these kinds of unethical experiments that have life-changing consequences.

Read the full article here. (Photo credit – The American Spectator)

Apr 21, 2018
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Co-leads Over 100 Groups Requesting FERPA Rewrite

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This week Education Liberty Watch, American Principles Project (APP), and Eagle Forum, along with leaders from more than 100 organizations, both nationally and in 31 states, called on Congress to rewrite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee, these organizations strongly urged Congress to recognize that it is not the role or right of government to probe a child’s most personal and sensitive attributes, as well as to protect the property interest that citizens have in their personal data.

“General education and labor databases should not be collecting and storing sensitive, subjective social, emotional, psychological and behavioral data,” said Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, President of Education Liberty Watch, an education writer at APP’s news publication,  The National Pulse, and Director of Education for Eagle Forum. “Psychological data related to behavioral, mental health, or special education concerns should be gathered after informed consent and treated with the same care and confidentiality as medical data, with appropriate sharing with law enforcement as needed under current statutes. If this had been done in the Parkland situation, that horrific tragedy could have been avoided.”

“Personal data collection without consent is an affront to freedom,” said Emmett McGroarty, senior fellow at American Principles Project and co-author of the new book, Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty. “The federal government has no right or authority to vacuum up mountains of personal data on its citizens without their consent, with only the vague intent to “help” them or others make decisions. This is especially true for children.”

The letter submitted five recommendations for the FERPA rewrite:

Do whatever is possible to decrease the amount of data collected on students, especially social-emotional learning (SEL) data. Collection of such data should be eliminated or at the very least a) not collected without informed opt-in parental consent and b) be treated as medical data.

Treat whatever mental health, social emotional, or behavioral data collected for special-education evaluations or any other related program, such as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), as medical data that cannot be housed in longitudinal databases.

Use aggregate rather than individual data to the greatest extent possible.
Obtain parental consent if data collected for one purpose is to be repurposed or shared with another federal agency.

Eliminate the current language in FERPA allowing predictive testing.

It is incredibly important to fix FERPA and protect student data and psychological privacy as we have seen on multiple occasions in the recent past:

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal is affecting students and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is  testing and planning to manipulate the same personality traits in students involved in the Facebook dust-up.

 

Just this week, there was another major scandal with Pearson committing psychological experiments on college students without consent.

 

The National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is pushing for social emotional learning  (SEL) to be involved in school safety issues, which will not help.

 

Mental screening programs with all of their subjectivity and inaccuracy are starting to pop up all over the country, such as those discussed in Texas.

 

Efforts to increase data sharing with corporations, researchers and among federal agencies without consent in Congress through the  Foundations for Evidence-based Policy Making Act and the College Transparency Act are also being pushed by the data grabbers.

The letter also received excellent coverage by Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart.

Here is the  link to the full letter. Please use it to contact your members of Congress and congressional candidates. so that we may protect the privacy and minds of our children and our freedoms as Americans.

Please also help us continue this David vs. Goliath fight by making your most generous contribution HERE. Thank you!

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