March 9, 2018
This excerpt is from a follow-up to the recent article by Dr. Effrem on the Parkland shooting and discusses the dangers of knee-jerk legislative responses to complex problems:
But the most dangerous and unrecognized part of this bill is the increased psychiatric screening of "at-risk" students and the training of teachers to recognize the signs of mental illness and violence, imposing on them the responsibility to intervene.
Both sides used mental health issues as a scapegoat. Leaving the gun issues aside for a moment, not only will the mental health provisions do little to protect students in schools, they will harm essential liberties like freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, data privacy, and parental autonomy. By greatly increasing the potential for more students to be labeled and drugged with medications like ADHD drugs (which the Parkland shooter was reportedly taking) that are known to be associated with increased hostility and violence, it may also increase the incidence of these horrific events.
There are two aspects of the mental health issues in this bill that especially need more attention.
First is the hypocrisy of saying that it is wrong, dangerous, and too burdensome to give teachers and other school staff the voluntary option to be trained to carry weapons if the sheriff and the school board agree, but not saying the same of turning already overburdened teachers into psychologists to recognize mental health challenges and intervene. It is illogical and dangerous to the majority of other students to have teachers, who are unqualified in this realm, Read more
February 27, 2018
Excerpt from Dr. Effrem's article at The National Pulse:
In other words, psychiatric diagnosis is guesswork, and predicting violent behavior in known patients, much less children briefly screened, does not work even when done by experts. So, given the possibility for misdiagnosis that has no medical privacy protection in schools and will be added to longitudinal databases, training teachers for a few hours to screen and diagnose mental illness seems foolish and dangerous.
Mental screening for "at-risk" students is notoriously inaccurate. One study of a mental health screening instrument called TeenScreen admitted that the survey "would result in 84 non-suicidal teens being referred for evaluation for every 16 youths correctly identified." This is very dangerous when treatment could include psychiatric medications that have harmful or even fatal side effects, such as suicide, homicide, aggression and hostility, heart problems, brain changes, and many more.
The problem with mental screening in general and with labeling "at-risk" children with a psychiatric label is that the already admittedly subjective diagnostic criteria discussed above are even more difficult to apply to children. The World Health Organization has said (and there are many similar quotes available here):
Childhood and adolescence being developmental phases, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between phenomena that are part of normal development and others that are abnormal.
Other psychological experts interviewed, even after the horrible Sandy Hook Read more
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
August 11, 2016
Jane Robbins,attorney and senior fellow for the American Principles Project, has written another excellent column about the dangers of the next big edu fad - social emotional learning standards. Eight states are working with CASEL to adopt them. These are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.
We have long written about the dangerous loss of freedom of conscience and privacy inherent in social emotional research and data gathering via the allegedly academic Common Core aligned tests that are being amplified in the Every Student Succeeds Act's accountability paradigm. Mrs. Robbins was kind enough to cite Dr. Effrem's research paper on this topic. Here is an excerpt:
Assessment and development of students' social and emotional skills is risky business. What kind of training will teachers or other school personnel have for this responsibility? Psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson points out the extremely sensitive nature of evaluating children's social-emotional makeup and warns about having inadequately trained personnel implementing plans designed to alter students' psyches.
When non-psychologists dabble in these murky waters, the result is tremendously subjective analyses of what a child is thinking or feeling as opposed to what the government thinks he should be thinking or feeling. Dr. Karen Effrem, who has researched and written Read more
April 12, 2016
More evidence continues to flood into the news showing the privacy dangers of student data collection, digital education, psychological profiling and career tracking. Below are two videos and excerpts that clarify this very well.
The first is a PBS News Hour discussion in their Making the Grade segment with Miami-Dade mom, researcher, blogger, and anti-Common Core warrior Suzette Lopez. Lopez's son's social security number was stolen. Here is the video followed by a partial transcript:
SUZETTE LOPEZ, Parent: I'm trying to protect my kids, and there's so much data collection that's going on right now that we we're not even aware of.
JOHN TULENKO: Suzette Lopez is a graphic designer who sends her children to Miami public schools.
SUZETTE LOPEZ: It's these third-party vendors that are what we're partnering with, that we're bringing them in. But then, how much oversight really is there with these partners? Who's keeping an eye on that data?
After teachers and students admitted that they go around the districts's security set-up all the time to download various apps, the reporter also interviewed a US attorney about how easy it was for a food service worker to log in and print out student social security number that she then used to set up fraudulent tax returns. This worker incident happened after the SSN of Lopez's son was stolen but the issues are the same. Lopez ontinues:
LOPEZ: My son's Social Security was stolen. So, it was stolen and it took three years to clear up and three years to keep telling the IRS that my son was my son.
In a related video student privacy expert and law professor Dr. Joel Reidenberg of Fordham University also discussed the dangers of the amount of data regarding how a child Read more
February 10, 2016
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Although there are several major problems with the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) now called The Strengthening Research Through Education Act (S 227, SETRA), the most pressing and concerning is the expansion of federal education research to psychologically profile our children beginning in preschool:
Section 132 of the bill (page 28, line 16-21) inserts the following:
"and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively..." (Emphasis added).
Here are more of the many concerns:
1) Lack of Constitutionality - The federal government has no constitutional authority (Tenth Amendment) to be involved in education, much less doing research and collecting data on the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of our innocent children. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution says:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (Emphasis added).
Having the federal government sanction and fund psychological profiling of children is the worst kind of privacy invasion.
2) Subjectivity These parameters are admitted even by experts in the field to be extraordinarily subjective and difficult to define and measure. There is still no agreement about their meaning or even their Read more
July 30, 2015
The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is already extremely problematic both as the creator of the Smarter Balance (SBAC) computer adaptive testing platform and as statewide test provider for numerous other states that include Florida, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, and now Ohio. We have chronicled these problems that include: Psychosocial testing and data collection
Manipulative computer adaptive testing
Controversial social emotional intelligence and experimental education programs
Admits that Common Core is a national curriculum
Its founder was involved in racial eugenics experiments
Collects data on individual students and teachers through their national longitudinal database
As evidence of their student psychological and attitudinal profiling and data mining mounts, AIR continues to prove that they should not be the ones responsible for testing millions of American students via federally mandated, funded, and or supervised tests for either the SBAC federal consortium or for individual states. Here are the latest revelations:
1) AIR is involved with the US Departments of Education and Justice to implement an Orwellian data gathering, Read more
July 3, 2015
Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition & President of Education Liberty Watch
Uncle Sam is lately wearing a white coat and placing American students on the psychiatrist's couch. The number of federal education bills, tests, programs and other policies promoting indoctrination and assessment of affective attitudes, beliefs, "mindsets," "non-cognitive skills" and other non-academic traits is rapidly and alarmingly proliferating. Here are the most recent and very concerning examples:
1) The Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) This is the 792 page Senate version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. Some of the many examples of federal expansion of mental health screening in the schools include: Training teachers who are not mental health professionals to mentally screen student
Doing special education (IDEA)-style behavioral monitoring and intervention school-wide without delineation between observation, suggestion, and treatment nor clear methods of parental consent and privacy protection for behavioral information.
The federal government is promoting the concept that schools taking on the functions of families and physicians by paying for schools to provide mental health care
They are even putting mental health in physical education
2) The Student Success Act (HR 5) The House version of the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization expands affective testing by omission instead of commission and also continues mental health programs for certain groups: The rewrite of the section that discusses state standards, assessments and accountability leaves out the key protection that prohibits the federally mandated state tests that "evaluate or assess personal or family Read more
January 13, 2015
May 28, 2014
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Even more disturbing information continues to emerge about The American Institutes for Research (AIR), showing yet again that they are the worst possible organization to develop and administer Florida's state tests.
We have already reported how they promote the LGBT agenda; run a national data mining center that admits using individual data of Florida students and teachers; and are developing computer adaptive testing for Common Core tests of PARCC's evil twin SBAC. Here is a rundown of three more concerning pieces of information:
Emotions Over Academics: More of AIR's psychosocial agenda has been exposed in a brilliant article in American Thinker by psychologist and economist Dean Kalahar. He confirms the chief of our concerns that AIR is far more involved with social engineering than with academics and rightly explains that "those who write the test set the curriculum." He quotes the goal of AIR's National Clearinghouse on Supportive School Discipline (NCSSD) from their website as follows:
"Changing the culture of communities and schools in which certain groups of students -- racial and ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth; and/or students with emotional, behavioral and cognitive disabilities -- face disproportionate school disciplinary action."
This is a social justice agenda Read more