School choice is becoming a very hot topic in education circles with the likely ascendancy of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education in the new Trump administration. Because so many are pursuing the noble goal of trying to help poor children escape from failing public schools, they do not or will not see the dangers of these programs to private and even home school autonomy.
Education Liberty Watch has been trying to warn of these dangers for several years and is honored to be working beside tremendous organizations like Eagle Forum and the Cato Institute to raise this alarm.
Eagle Forum just published an article by FSCCC executive director, Dr. Karen Effrem, discussing this work. Here is an excerpt:
In 2012, we published the School Choice Freedom Grading Scale. States like New Hampshire and Georgia that had accountability directly to parents scored A+ grades while states like Indiana and Louisiana that imposed the state standardized tests on entire private schools received failing grades.
The ever brilliant education analyst and conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly instantly understood the dangers of both Common Core and these alleged school choice plans to private school autonomy. Shortly after having the honor of presenting our Grading Scale at her wonderful 2012 Eagle Council meeting, she wrote these insightful words in her weekly column, titled Like ObamaCare, Obama Core Is Another Power Grab:
The Obama Core advocates are even planning to impose their standards on private schools. As the school choice movement grows, the attempt will be made to force any private or charter school that accepts public funds to adopt Common Core standards and have their students take the national tests. (Emphasis added).
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 in The Federalist exposing the dangers of so-called social emotional learning (SEL), Allison Crean Davis argues that parents have nothing to fear from governmental monitoring and manipulation of their children's psychological states. Writing for a new organization called The 74 (funded by the DeVos Family Foundation), she urges that Americans wait for the "iterative march of science" (no, we don't know what that means either) to help us figure out the best way to implement and measure SEL in schools.
At the outset Davis likens SEL to Common Core: a "promising, well-intended initiative" that should be given a chance to work. Now there's a comparison that will ease parents' minds.
It's also interesting that she wants education to be more like medicine, yet bemoans the fact that benighted parents didn't wait for the "research" to come out on Common Core before opposing it. If the Common Core scheme had followed the pattern of Read more
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 on Twitter and her website the day she was appointed, alleging her opposition to Common Core, stating that she is "not a supporter-period," because it had turned into a "federalized boondoggle":
Here are several important things to know about DeVos based on her rhetoric quoted above; her record as documented by the Stop Common Core in Michigan parents who have experienced her brand of education reform firsthand, and other sources.
1) DeVos used Jeb Bush's "high standards" euphemism for Common Core Her mention of "high standards" in her website statement and the report of having discussed "higher national standards" in the Trump Transition Team readout of her November 19th meeting with the president-elect, are identical to Jeb Bush's efforts to deflect criticism of his Common Core support before and during his failed presidential campaign right down to the "Period.":
Education and Common Core have received little national attention since the end of the presidential primary, but these crucial issues are making a resurgence in some Florida congressional races. Here are two important examples.
In District 18, that includes Martin and Palm Beach Counties, Brian Mast, a highly decorated munitions specialist who lost both legs in combat, is running on the Republican ticket. He strongly opposes Common Core and federal interference in education, saying on his website:
Washington should not be mandating curriculum for states, which is why I oppose Common Core. Each state should be a laboratory for innovation so that states compete with each other for the best results.
Mast's opponent, Democrat Randy Perkins, has made millions in government contracts for disaster clean-up. He echoes Hillary Clinton's platform of expanding expensive, intrusive government early childhood programs despite the fact that dozens of studies have shown them to be ineffective and or harmful. Perkins, like Clinton, also wants the federal government to provide low-cost college, even though our nation is $19 trillion in debt. His website mentions nothing about Common Core, which Democrat officials have called the "third rail" of politics.
Meanwhile, in District 9, near Orlando, veteran and businessman, Wayne Liebnitsky (left photo above) is also running on an anti-Common Core/EndFedEd platform, listing education first:
Our nation's educational system is crumbling to the will of common core. It's time to get back to basics, by returning power of educating today's youth back to the States, Counties and Cities that individually know what's best for their own children.
Liebnitsky's opponent, termed-out Democratic state Senator Darren Soto (right photo above) doesn't even mention education on his website while pushing all the topics typical for his party. that have nothing to do with education.
In Read more
We are grateful to the Federalist for posting the latest article on social emotional learning from Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project and Dr. Effrem:
It is great that Georgia has joined Tennessee in withdrawing from the CASEL SEL standards movement, but sadly, CASEL is pushing on with a new effort detailed in the article along with a detailed discussion of the dangers of SEL.
This summer the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) announced it had chosen eight states to collaborate on creating K-12 "social emotional learning" (SEL) standards. All students, from kindergartners through high-school seniors, would be measured on five "non-cognitive" factors: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Under such a system teachers become essentially therapists, and students become essentially patients. Supposedly this will clear away the psychological deadwood that obstructs a student's path to academic achievement.
But less than two months later, two of the CASEL states (Tennessee and Georgia) have withdrawn from the initiative. Parents have begun to realize the dangers of SEL and to challenge their schools' lemming-like march toward psychological manipulation of children.
Congratulations and thanks to all the candidates, whether they won or lost, for their great efforts in the Florida primary. We are especially pleased and thankful for their strong efforts in the realm of education to stand for academic excellence, parental rights and local control and against federal overreach, mindless testing tyranny, data mining, and psychological profiling.
Education in general and specifically, the Common Core system was a very important issue in the just completed Florida primary. Regardless of their records, politicians clamored to sound pro-parent and to portray themselves as anti-Common Core. Our grassroots voter guides were an attempt to separate the rhetoric from the records. We thank you for reading and distributing them. We thank our partners and allies at The Tea Party Network, Liberty First, the Republican Liberty Caucus, and the Florida Citizens' Alliance for all of their tremendous grassroots work with ratings, endorsements, forums, and interaction on Common Core and other important issues. However, education was not the only issue on the ballot yesterday. There was much money and many competing interests on a whole range of issues involved, of which the pro-Common Core Tallahassee and corporate establishment was only one, albeit significant, part. Yet despite the massive funding arrayed against us and our partners, we believe that these rating and all of our work together made an important difference in these races.
Here is a brief recap of results for the races we evaluated:
Senate District 17 Winner Mayfield:
This race was a stellar example of how courage, integrity, authentic efforts against Common Core, and grassroots support can win elections against great odds. Rep. Debbie Mayfield has been the standard bearer in Florida against the invasive and ineffective Common Core system for the last three years, often standing alone against the special interest groups and the education Read more
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 extensively about the issue of SEL, warns about the subjectivity of this kind of analysis, particularly with young children.
Even prominent SEL proponents caution that assessing students on SEL standards, especially with the common mechanism of student surveys, can be a shot in the dark. Researchers Angela Duckworth and David Yeager have said that "perfectly unbiased, unfakeable, and error-free measures are an ideal, not a reality." [Read the whole column titled: The Latest Big Education Fad, Social-Emotional Learning, Is As Bad As It Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The three Republican candidates to replace outgoing constitutional conservative Congressman Curt Clawson in District 19 - former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, Sanibel Councilman Chauncey Goss, and millionaire businessman Francis Rooney participated in a recent forum in Naples. From this account, federal early childhood and social programs was the only education issue among many important issues discussed. Here is an excerpt from the Naples Daily News.
As for domestic policy, Rooney stood apart from his opponents, saying he supported giving federal support to families with young children because "early learning is very important to a child's development."
To accomplish this, Rooney proposed an overhaul of welfare to figure out how to put "some of the money we're spending and wasting into preparing our children to be nurtured and learned."
But Bongino countered.
"The federal government, tragically, has no answer here. We have literally spent, not figuratively, tens of trillions of dollars in anti-poverty programs, and the percentage of Americans living in poverty has not moved a hair. Maybe a hair, we'll give them a hair," he said.
Goss said he didn't support increasing funding for families with young children because the country already is a "nanny state as it is" that has developed a "culture of dependency."
As well-intentioned as Rooney's idea may be, it is quite concerning. Bongino is absolutely correct about the failure of federal social programs in general despite trillions of dollars spent. And Goss' statemenst about these engendering "a nanny state" and "a culture of dependence" are also spot-on.
Specifically, there are more than two dozen studies about federal and state early childhood programs show one or more of four different possibilities: 1) Little or no benefit 2) Fade out of beneficial effect 3) Academic harm 4) Read more
We continue to marvel at the imperial sense of entitlement and cluelessness of Big Data in thinking both that they deserve sensitive personal student and psychological data without consent and that parents are "afraid" of student research. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem's latest privacy article posted on The Pulse 2016 in rebuttal to this Brookings Institute attorney titled Memo to Big Data: Parents Are Furious -- Not Fearful -- About Data-Mining:
Perhaps we can clarify reality for Ms. Leong. First, parents are not fearful, they are furious. That's why parent groups joined together to sue the Gates/Murdoch/Carnegie cloud database system called inBloom, successfully bringing down the multi-million-dollar venture. Yes, parents "distrust" the state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) -- because they can't get straight answers about what data is collected and with whom it is shared; because data-mining proponents speak of collecting data on their children's "affective states"; because under current federal law and regulations, access to personally identifiable information (PII) is available to researchers, tech companies, multiple federal agencies, and even "volunteers"; and because recent congressional hearings have exposed the horrifying lack of data security within the U.S. Department of Education [HERE and HERE].
Parents also object that in too many cases, government collects and discloses their children's data without parental consent. They don't appreciate hearing that it's just too much trouble to get their consent or that their right to protect their children's privacy by opting out of data-collection is secondary to having full data sets for "research" (as was discussed in the March House hearing that Leong touts).
Nor is "trust" engendered when data-collection involves psychologically profiling innocent children to provide the "individual and micro data" advocated by Leong, using creepy, Orwellian devices such as those Read more
Jane Robbins, attorney and senior fellow at the American Principles Project wrote another excellent article about invasive federal involvement in early childhood education, this time in the context of Hillary Clinton's dangerous pre-K plan. In it she discussed Clinton's strong desire to to extend her work as First Lady of Arkansas where she expanded a failed childcare/home visiting program called Parents as Teachers and then as US First Lady when she wrote the book It Takes a [Government] Village.
Robbins discusses the help Clinton has received on her quest from both President Obama who has been promoting universal preschool for his entire presidency and the Congressional Republicans who caved and gave him another $250 million for preschool in the Every Student Succeed Act.
She also discussed the push for even more national pre-K standards aligned to Common Core, especially the invasive social emotional standards and the terrible track record of failure and harm caused by these programs. On the last two issues, she was kind enough to mention or link to Dr. Effrem's research in these areas, for which we thank her. Here is an excerpt:
In any event, the Gates-funded ETS argues that as long as the federal government has pushed Common Core onto the states, beginning in kindergarten, the accomplishment-inducing preschool standards should be aligned with Common Core. That way preschool can be standardized across the country, eliminating the dreaded "inequity" by ensuring all preschoolers are drilled according to the same garbage standards. Alignment would also allow teachers to share instructional strategies and all teach the same thing. We can't have children in Kansas coloring duckies while Minnesotans are focusing on kittens.
And of course, these standards should emphasize "social-emotional learning." The government must expect teachers to observe and record toddlers' psychological development and attributes, which Read more
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