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 selection over a period of ten years:
Challenges Involved in Infant and Early Childhood Diagnosis
"Diagnostic classifications for infancy are still being developed and validated..."< Read more
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 language of SPPA:
''(2) IN GENERAL.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds provided to the Department or Federal funds provided under any applicable program shall be spent to support any survey or Read more
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 Read more