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, try to do -- after only a few hours of training -- what psychiatric professionals, who are trained for years, freely admit that they cannot do: predict who will become violent. Here is Dr. Julian Ford, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut, who had extensively analyzed the life of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the similarities between Parkland Read more
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 shooting, for The Washington Post story quoted above were opposed to expanded mental screening of children and teens.There is no instrument that is specifically useful or validated for identifying potential school shooters or mass murderers," said Stephen D. Hart, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who is the co-author of a widely used evaluation tool. "There are many things in life where we have an inadequate evidence base, and Read more
Formal comments on Florida's consolidated plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) were submitted by Dr. Karen Effrem, FSCCC's executive director.There were two strong points of agreement with the Department's plan: Seeking a waiver from the 95% testing mandate
Not using subjective psychosocial criteria as the "any other factor" in the accountability scheme.
There were also several points of disagreement that included: Continued use of the Common Core standards rebranded as the Florida Standards and AIR's FSA as the state test.
Receiving federal funds for ineffective, psyhologically invasive, privacy harming programs under Title IV, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (AKA Parent Replacement Centers) and the safe and healthy schools programs that include a lot of psychological monitoring and data gathering, including by teachers that are already overburdened and not formally trained for this type of activity.
FSCCC hopes that Florida will reappropriate its 10th Amendment right to control education. We strongly agree with American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins, who said in a recent article:
This chatter illustrates a deeper problem. Over the last 50 years, state education establishments and their auxiliary politicians have developed a Washington-dependent mindset. State educrats continually tell parents, for example, that the Common Core standards can't be ditched because what else would Washington approve? What else could we possibly use? And what about assessments? Heaven forbid we implement our own testing policy, because surely Washington knows best. We must seek permission from Washington to make any changes that push the ESSA envelope. Is it worth risking our federal money to venture from the tried-and-(un)true?Obviously, ESSA restricts both USED and the states. But USED could do much more to achieve the "liberation" that Alexander claims Congress intended. For Read more
1) Charters still require the Common Core tests, which basically then require the academically inferior, psychologically manipulative standards and curriculum.
2) Charter boards are unelected, unaccountable to parents and the public and may not even be in the same state as the school(s) they oversee.
3) Charters do not work to improve failing schools. There is a higher percentage of failing charters than there are "F" public schools in Florida as admitted in this chart from Jeb Bush's foundation. The KIPP charter school in Jacksonville is a D school.
4) There is strong bipartisan opposition to this bill in Florida and national concern from all points on the political spectrum about school choice/charters/vouchers
5) Charters and vouchers are being pushed by Jeb Bush and Betsy DeVos and the corporate/big government education establishment of both parties that gave us Common Core.
6) The bill only gets rid of one test and only does paper/pencil for grades 3-6 when many legislators tried to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers to significantly reduce testing.
7) HB 7069 is terrible legislative process, with the final bill put together in secret at the very end of session only by Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron with much not debated or amended on the floors of both chambers and only an up or down vote at the end. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala basically urged the governor to veto it during floor debate.
8) The national private charter corporations do not even want to come to Florida to do the turnaround models required by Schools of Hope, because it is not profitable for them.
9) According to Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, David Simmons, who was one of 3 Republicans to vote against the bill, it i s poorly written and will be complicated, if not impossible to properly implement. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala Read more
Karen R. Effrem,MD - Executive Director Betsy DeVos at her January 17th confirmation hearing - Photo Credit to Caffeinated Thoughts
I strongly agree with Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts that Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Education was not terribly informative. Aside from a brief mention of Common Core by Senator Cassidy (R-LA) where she said she wouldn't mandate it from the secretarial level and her answer to a question from Senator Alexander (R-TN, chairman of the HELP Committee holding the hearing) that she wouldn't implement school choice from the federal level, none of the major concerns in our national parent coalition letter about Common Core, privacy, and school choice were asked or answered.Here is a brief discussion of several issues that did come up and those that should be closely monitored during her control of the U.S. Department of Education:Common Core Mrs. DeVos answered Senator Cassidy's brief yes or no question, that she would not continue Common Core from the federal level. it is interesting that she said in her prepared opening statement: And every teacher in America dreams of breaking free from standardization, so that they can deploy their unique creativity and innovate with their students.
If she wants teachers to "break free from standardization" how is it that she has supported national standards and standardized tests that require "standardized" teaching for so long?However, as stated in numerous writings by many anti-Common Core experts and activists, the foundation of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates the Common Core by imposing secretarial veto of state plans and requiring states' compliance with eleven different federal laws all mandating statewide standards and tests that are Common Core even if not labeled such. How she implements ESSA will be critical.Federal School Choice While it was somewhat reassuring that she said that she would not support a federal school Read more
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).
President-elect Donald Trump's appointee to become the next Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is undergoing her confirmation hearings starting on January 17th. Despite protestations to the contrary, the Michigan Read more
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 medical research, the standards would have been tested on small 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 Next: You have been a steadfast Read more
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 addition, Reps. Ron Read more
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