February 18, 2015
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The US House Education and Workforce Committee amended and passed its Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind six hundred plus page reauthorization bill on February 11th
. (Video, Bill and amendment language are available here
). It passed on a straight party line vote and is scheduled to be debated on the House floor on February 24th. The Obama White has already issued a paper
criticizing the bill, as well as a veto threat.
Ideally this massive, unconstitutional, ineffective and expensive law would be repealed and the Department of Education would be closed. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Dr. Sandra Stotsky and other friends and experts in the movement issued a statement
calling for a major elimination of mandates.
The bill, called The Student Success Act (HR5) was described by committee member and former Alabama State School Board member Bradley Byrne as "a step in the right direction, but still has far to go," because the federal government "needs a large dose of humility" when it comes to education. We agree!
However, while we oppose this bill as a whole, before discussing the significant issues of concern, it is important to congratulate and thank Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and the committee members that supported good language and fought off bad amendments. Here are the highlights:
The bill contains language found in an anti-Common Core, anti-Federal interference bill call the Local Control of Education Act, HR 524 by committee member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Florida Republican Reps. Curt Clawson, Tom Rooney, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Yoho, as well as 43 others. This language prevents the Secretary of Education from "incentivizing" or "coercing" national standards like Common Core or and national test like SBAC or PARCC in any federal law or program like waivers. It is important for preventing future disasters like Common Core.
Rep. Steve Russell's amendment to prevent the transfer of individually identifiable student data to the federal government passed and was added to the bill. That amendment states that "All personal, private student data shall be prohibited from use beyond assessing student performance as provided for in subparagraph (C). The State's annual report shall only use such data as sufficient to yield statistically reliable information, and does not reveal personally identifiable information about individual students."
The Committee fought off efforts to amend in a requirement for "college and career ready standards for all students," i.e. Common Core. Although the Student Success Act does not go far enough, at least the national standards would not imposed for everyone by the law.
All of Title IV of NCLB was repealed. This includes many invasive, ineffective, and expensive education programs that EdWatch/Education Liberty Watch have been warning about since NCLB passed in 2001. These include early childhood mental health programs; federally run civic and community service programs; Ready to Learn Television, which basically contains money for propaganda in PBS children's programs like Sesame Street; and the full service schools idea of Arne Duncan and Lamar Alexander. An effort to put a lot of these back in the bill was defeated.
The majority also defeated an effort to put in universal preschool language. Education Liberty Watch has chronicled the lack of effectiveness; academic and emotional harm; and high cost of these programs for a very long time, including Head Start and the Race to the Top Early learning Challenge. We are appreciative to the committee for their work on this.
Eliminates unworkable Adequate Yearly Progress provisions These requirements would have made nearly 100% of schools failures. These provisions were the impetus behind the federal waivers that coerced Common Core.
Now, here are the major concerns with the Student Success Act and why we urge a NO votet:
Continues the federal mandate that standards "include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state." This use of cookie cutter standards for every unique child is unacceptable. Local and duly elected school boards in concert with parents and teachers should set their standards the way it was done prior to 1994 the beginning of federal interference in standards and assessments by the George HW Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.
Continues the annual testing requirement - HR 5 continues the federal mandate that states test students every year in reading/English and math from grades 3-8 and once in high school require using "the same academic assessments...to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the state." According to likely pro-Common Core presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, that is the proper role of the federal government in education, continuing the policies of his father and brother. This denies proper autonomy to local districts and has been ineffective according to much research including a statement signed by over 500 university professors.
Portability provision risks inserting federal and Common Core control in private schools The Student Success Act currently has federal Title I funds follow students to the public or charter (also public schools but with less publicly accountable governance) of the family's choice. An amendment that was offered and withdrawn by Rep. Messer (R-IN) would have allowed that portability to apply to private schools as well. This should be vehemently opposed because it will likely end up requiring the state public school Common Core tests and therefore the standards on private schools as Indiana's voucher plan already has. This idea was pushed in Mitt Romney's education plan authored by Jeb Bush during the 2012 campaign which said:
The Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA so that low-income and special-needs students can choose which school to attend and bring their funding with them. The choices offered to students under this policy will include any district or public charter school in the state, as well as private schools if permitted by state law... To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state's testing system. (Emphasis added.)
WE URGE A NO VOTE ON HR 5 AND OFFER THESE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE BILLS:
This bill does nothing to deal with psychological manipulation, profiling, and data collection rampant in Common Core and numerous other federal education programs These efforts by the US Department of Education, those behind the Common Core standards and tests, preschool socioemotional teaching and testing by the Head Start program, and admissions by major national organizations are extensively documented in our major research paper and discussion of the issues with the major federal data and research legislation. It is bad enough that the federal government is involved in education at all, but to then have them involved in the "social and emotional" needs of any citizen as on pages 426 and 508, much less children is not acceptable.
The data protection statutes and those involved with student surveys are not yet updated The massive amount and frightening extent of student data collection with no real privacy protection due to the Obama administration's regulatory weakening of the Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) passed in 1974 and the large loophole in the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) allowing invasive and psychological profiling through academic curriculum assessments need to be remedied first before any reauthorization.
There is potentially dangerous federal involvement in the parental relationship with schools Although well intended and with efforts to prevent coercion, the parental involvement language in Section 118 is yet another area in which the federal government has no authority to be involved. After all, we have seen how effective federal prohibitions on interference in standards and assessments have been in preventing the whole Common Core debacle.
Students and families need protection against coercion to be labeled and placed on psychotropic medication There has been a tragic trend of labeling children, particularly minority children with behavioral and emotional disorders to improve test scores to make Adequate Yearly Progress and not because of the pressure of high stakes tests for performance pay. This story of a Florida father's loss of his son due to medication induced side effects after being coerced, which a teacher admits as all too frequent, is heart breaking. Rep. John Kline, chairman of this committee actually sponsored the Child Medication Safety Act in 2005-2006 to try to prevent this coercion and it passed the House 407-12, but was blocked in the Senate. Extensive references and testimony are available from EdWatch/Education Liberty Watch.
Cut Federal Financial Strings with the LEARN Act, HR 121, by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) - Although clearly better than No Child Left Behind, the Student Success Act still keeps the federal government too much in control of education for which it has no constitutional authority. Rep. Garrett's bill does the following:
"The LEARN Act would give states the option to opt out of No Child Left Behind. In return, the federal government would provide taxpayers of the opt-out state a tax credit, thereby keeping money in the pockets of taxpayers instead of sending it to Washington, D.C. This method immediately cuts the authoritative and financial strings of the federal government so that state and local governments can set their own educational standards while ensuring maximum parental involvement."
This legislation was co-sponsored by twenty members
in the last Congress, including Florida Reps. Posey and Southerland, who clearly understand that the role of the federal government has to be eliminated or at least greatly reduced. This legislation should be amended into HR 5 or substituted for it.
Do NOT reauthorize the ESEA until the massive breaches in student and teacher privacy and data security are fixed.
Eliminate the yearly statewide testing requirement and use the NAEP/TIMMS test on a sample of students or at the very least, decrease the statewide testing requirement in math and reading to once in elementary, once in middle school and once in high school as is done for science currently .
Refuse to fund any program that psychologically teaches, assesses, or collects data on children under the guise of academics.
Amend in an updated version of the Child Medication Safety Act that prohibits federal funds from going to states or schools that allow parents to be coerced via threat of not receiving academic teaching or a child protection referral if they refuse to put their children on any psychotropic medication The language needs updating from the 2005 version so that children are protected from coercion by ALL psychiatric medications, not just Ritalin and Adderall and any others that are on the DEA's controlled substances lists. There has been much research and evidence that all of the psychiatric medications have potentially great, if not fatal dangers for children, including suicide and homicide, strokes and heart attacks.
Remove the parental involvement language in Section 118 Parental involvement is a good thing. Having the federal government anywhere near it is not. The only exception would be the language that prohibits coercion of parents to have their children developmentally screened or to participate in any preschool program. This language should be applied to programs for Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans as well.
December 14, 2016
In the recent analysis of the DeVos nomination, it was mentioned that T74, a DeVos Family Foundation funded website published a critique of Jane Robbins's and Dr. Effrem's Federalist article warning of the dangers of social emotional learning (SEL) and that the author's employer had connections to many pro-Common Core and SEL groups:
The T74, a pro-Common Core education blog funded by the DeVos Family Foundation carried a post attacking the Federalist article written by Jane Robbins and myself as the "journalistic equivalent of yelling 'fire' in a theater" without substantively answering our concerns. The author works at Bellwether Education Partners, whose partners include (surprise, surprise) DeVos' PR [Philanthropy Roundtable], Bush's FEE [Now called ExelinEd], and the Gates Foundation, all major supporters of Common Core and of SEL.
Here is an extensive excerpt of the rebuttal to that misguided critique published in the Federalist today:
In response to our recent article Read more
December 2, 2016
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Michigan billionaire; Republican mega-donor, and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education. The corporate, big government Republican establishment, such as Jeb Bush, his Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, as well as groups that have received her large contributions, are thrilled with her appointment. Key education freedom leaders like Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project who called her a "very Jeb-like pick"; Joy Pullman, managing editor of The Federalist; and grassroots parent anti-Common Core groups in Michigan, Oklahoma, we here in Florida, and around the nation are justifiably concerned.
Understanding her future boss' promise to get rid of Common Core, as well as how fatal it was to the presidential campaigns of her friend and fellow FEE board member, Jeb Bush, whom she supported, and others that Donald Trump beat, she put out a hastily constructed statement Read more
May 16, 2016
Friday's edict from the Obama administration demands that every public school in America must allow transgendered students to use the restroom/locker room and participate on the sports teams of their chosen gender identity or risk losing federal funding. Using Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as a pretext, the joint Justice and Education Department decree redefines the term "sex," referring to the biological characteristic defined by chromosomes assigned at birth as "gender identity" which the letter defines as:
Gender identity refers to an individual's internal sense of gender. A person's gender identity may be different from or the same as the person's sex assigned at birth.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force definition is even more alarmingly radical, vague and socially transformative as used in a pre-K curriculum called Making Room in the Circle: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families in Early Childhood Settings:
"Refers to a person's internal, deeply felt sense of being either male or female, or something other or in between. Because gender identity is internal and personally defined, it is not visible to others." (Emphasis added)
The incredible danger to the safety and privacy of the estimated 99.7% of American public school students that do not have gender fluidity/gender dysphoria issues is obvious, mostly because of how sexual criminals will exploit the opportunity to harm young girls. An extremely concerning, Read more
January 6, 2016
After only hearing the news the day they were due due to the holidays and travel, Dr. Karen Effrem submitted comments on January 4th in response to the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Education joint and very Orwellian "family engagement" policy framework. Here is a summary of the issues discussed:
Parents are not just "equal partners," they "own the store" when it comes to raising their children Although the document says on page one that "Families are children's first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers" on page 1, it does not clearly set forth the preeminent role of parents in the education and upbringing of their children. Based on Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, Troxel vs Granville, and Meyers vs. Nebraska to name a few seminal Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, the pervasive language in this document that parents are mere partners with government or that government programs are to perform "parenting interventions" is extremely disturbing and unacceptable.
Promotion of government home visiting programs Based on this agency's own research, these programs are extraordinarily ineffective in two of the major areas that they are alleged to help: a) Prevention of Child Maltreatment: For primary measures in the studies reviewed where there was data listed, only 15/75 parameters (20%) showed a positive effect while 60/ Read more
December 2, 2015
Karen R. Efrem, MD - Executive Director
The House Education and Workforce Committee put out an infographic trying to convince their members that the 1061 page monstrosity released only about 48 hours before the final vote to rewrite No Child Left Behind is a Republican "win." They are trying to make their members feel okay about throwing our children to the Common Core beast and ignoring more than 200 parent groups in 46 states and instead listening to the Washington Cartel education elites and corporate raiders. Here are their claims followed by the truth.
1) CLAIM: Places new and unprecedented restrictions on the sec. of education
TRUTH: There is no enforcement mechanism for any of these restrictions and the sec. of education still has veto power over the state plans that still mandate standards and assessments similar to Common Core. (Details HERE)
2) CLAIM: Prohibits the sec. of education from forcing, coercing, or incentivizing states into adopting Common Core
TRUTH: ESSA heavily influences standards within the bill itself. This requirement to have the standards comply with 11 different unconstitutional federal statutes setting up standards similar to Common Core will be statutory a state must comply with it regardless of what the Secretary does or doesn't do. (Details HERE)
November 18, 2015
Many thanks to Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project for co-authoring and The Pulse 2016 for publishing Dr. Effrem's article titled: Nanny State Preschool Expansion -- Another Reason the ESEA Rewrite Should Be Voted Down. Here is an excerpt:
A host of other large studies using data on thousands of children shows the same pattern of ineffectiveness, fadeout, and/or harm. The most recent is a multi-year controlled study from Tennessee, Senator Alexander's home state, about which Education Week reported the following conclusions:
". . . Children started off school strong, but by kindergarten were generally indistinguishable academically from comparable peers who did not enroll in the program" and "by 3rd grade the children who attended pre-K were performing worse on some academic and behavioral measures than similar classmates who were never in the program."
Even results from the one study that purports to show long-term benefit are still described as "dismal" in the mainstream press. There is simply no persuasive research to countervail this massive evidence.
But politicians and the education establishment cling to the concept of preschool. Advocates of Common Core and other progressive-education philosophies want to extend government tentacles to ensnare ever younger children. The managed economy and managed society can be achieved more quickly if toddlers Read more
July 25, 2015
The US House of Representatives completed the consideration of their version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on July 8th. This process began in February but was halted thanks to the great opposition by all of us working together - parents, teachers and other citizens that oppose the ever expanding federal role in education.
While this bill is definitely much better than the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), it still has many fatal flaws. (See also HERE). These include: Cementing of Common Core via the requirement in state plans that must be approved by the secretary that states have college and career ready standards
Continuation of the federal mandate of annual tests with their continued psychological profiling and data mining
Removal of the prohibition on attitudinal profiling in the mandated statewide tests
No real enforcement mechanism for states that are bullied by federal interference in standards or tests such as Common Core
The vote was a very narrow 218-213 with every single Democrat opposing the bill due to not enough federal control but ultimately doing the right thing and 27 Republicans opposing it due to still too much control. We thank all Read more
July 20, 2015
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Sadly, despite clear and detailed warnings from parents, teachers, activists, and policy experts, the US Senate passed its rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) called The Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA S1170) on July 16th by a vote of 81-17. Three Democrats voted against the bill because of not enough government control, but nonetheless did the right thing. It is extremely clear that big government and big business interests, who are supporting pro-Common Core candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton, are colluding to cement federal control over American education.
We would like to thank the following senators for their opposition votes to the overall bill:
Flake (R-AZ) Lee (R-UT)
Rubio (R-FL) Sasse (R-NE)
Florida's other US Senator Bill Nelson did not vote on the bill or any amendments as he is recovering from cancer surgery. We wish him well.
Three of the five presidential candidates in the Senate Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted no. Bernie Sanders (I-VT, a member of the Socialist Party running for president Read more
July 13, 2015
Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director
The following is a more detailed analysis of why congressional members' support of Senator David Vitter's (R-LA) privacy bill, the Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA), S. 1341 is so important. This bill is the culmination of many discussions and the attentive listening of Senator Vitter with constituents, parents, pro-privacy attorneys and physicians, and others who have spent years fighting the data collection associated with the Common Core standards and aligned assessments and the mental screening of children. Here is important information that will show that this legislation is a major step forward in improving student data privacy and protecting students' freedom of conscience and freedom from government directed psychological profiling.
SPPA Prohibits Psychological Screening:
One of the most exciting parts of SPPA, especially for analysts and activists like the author, who has been fighting mental screening and the over-diagnosis and drugging of children as young as infancy for more than a decade, is the prohibition on psychological testing and the strengthening of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment. After defining various terms, the bill does not merely require consent for mental screening and assessment or surveying of psychological attitudes with federal funds (a completely inappropriate federal activity), it fully prohibits psychological screening and profiling. The only exception is for special education evaluations, which is already current law. Significantly, the bill extends the prohibition of psychological screening and profiling to assessments, and thus would also ban the more horrific features of the Common Core assessments.
Here is the key Read more