Schools Ditch Academics for Emotional Manipulation

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But less than two months later, two of the CASEL states (Tennessee and Georgia) have withdrawn from the initiative.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.

Federal Government Probes Students’ Psyches

We’ve written about the push by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the rest of the progressive education establishment to transform education from academic content instruction to molding and assessing children’s attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors. The infamous “outcome-based education” (OBE) in the 1990s began the trend, and Head Start and the Common Core national standards advance the same foundational principles.

The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ramps up the trend in several ways. ESSA requires rating schools based partly on “nonacademic” factors, which may include measures of SEL. It also pours money into SEL programs, “which may include engaging or supporting families at school or at home” (i.e., home visits by bureaucrats).

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Read the full article at The Federalist. Continue Reading

Grassroots vs. Establishment Battle Evident in GOP Education Platform

Photo credit: Erik Drost via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Although present in many other areas of the Republican Party Platform, the struggle between parents/grassroots activists and corporate education reform/data overlords is no more evident than in education. That fight is between parents who are demanding their inherent right to control the educational destinies of their children and the corporate titans, politicians of both parties, and bureaucrats that have imposed Common Core, invasive testing, psychological profiling, and data mining.

Grassroots Wins

Jane Robbins has already done an excellent job noting many of the same grassroots and parental wins. I heartily agree with her list of wins for our side (a complete list of my points and quotes is available here):

  • Affirming the need to eliminate or greatly reduce the unconstitutional, expensive, and ineffective federal role in education
  • Rejecting the view of students as products or “human capital”
  • Affirming the primacy of the parental role in education
  • Protecting data and psychological privacy and rejection of social emotional profiling and mental screening
  • Opposition to national standards and test based accountability
  • Supporting local control
  • Rejection of the Title IX bathroom edict and contraceptive based sex education as dangers to privacy, safety, and health
  • Affirming academic basics like phonics and other important foundations like history from original documents and the Bible as literature

One other significant piece the RNC should be commended for adding in the overall section on families is the plank acknowledging the incredibly important role of two-parent families that is foundational to education and to preventing so many social ills that plague our nation. Continue Reading

Trump’s Leading VP Candidates Are Not Strong on Common Core and Fed Ed

Donald Trump is set to announce his vice-presidential choice sometime this week, before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland begins on Monday.

Despite occasional stumbles, such as identifying education as one of the core functions of the federal government and his dizzying policy switches, Trump has been relatively stable in opposing Common Core and claiming he wants to “make education local.” Although he has no record in public-education policy, he would be more likely than Hillary “It Takes a Village” Clinton to decrease the federal role in education.

But some of the major contenders for the VP slot do have public records — and those records are concerning. Here is a brief review of the commonly discussed names in order of the amount of media buzz they are receiving at The Pulse 2016, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post:

1.) Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Gingrich served as Speaker while the Clintons, Marc Tucker, and others were laying the foundation for the “seamless web” of centralized education and workforce that undergirded No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Common Core. (See the following diagram created by former congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Mike Chapman and distributed by Education Liberty Watch’s predecessor organization EdWatch.)

To his credit, before he became Speaker, Gingrich voted against Goals 2000, which implemented the mental health and preschool pieces of the FedEd puzzle, and School to Work. These bills implemented Marc Tucker’s infamous vision explained in his letter to Hillary Clinton in 1992. Continue Reading

Memo to Big Data: Parents Are Furious — Not Fearful — About Data-Mining

A recent column by Brenda Leong of the Brookings Institution condescendingly intones that parents are clueless and fearful about the glories of womb-to-tomb data-collection for our children, including social-emotional (psychological) data. Here is an excerpt:

The role of technology within schools expanded at an unprecedented rate, general awareness of consumer data security and breaches increased, and student databases at the state or national level were established or proposed, which drew great public scrutiny and fear. This maelstrom yielded a tremendous output of legislative activity targeted at education technology companies, that was overwhelmingly focused on protecting and limiting the sharing and use of student data—in rare instances, to the point of forbidding research uses almost completely. There are signs that this wave of fear-driven response has finally crested, and that more measured conversations are occurring; conversations that prioritize the fundamental requirement for appropriate privacy and security, but with a clear focus on the invaluable role of research and analysis and the need to enable it.

Leong and Brookings are among the corporate/foundation/government education cartel that supports the invasive Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA – S 227), which would expand federal government snooping into children’s social-emotional data:

[The Senate’s passage of SETRA] is one of the recent signs that Congress takes seriously the research value of student data. Another encouraging moment occurred in March, when the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing which addressed stakeholders’ concerns about student data . . . Unfortunately, as of now, SETRA is stalled (or “held hostage”), potentially because of continuing distrust about broader student privacy concerns.

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The Dark Side of Student Data Mining

Janice Gobert’s recent op-ed in US News & World Report is another classic example of the huge disconnect between parents and the big government and corporate education-technology “Big Data” machine. Big Data seems to believe computers can teach children better than teachers or parents. It also claims entitlement to constant data from our children, including psychological data, handsomely profiting corporations and government but destroying privacy and the student-teacher interaction, all without evidence of effectiveness. This is why informed parents and teachers in droves are rejecting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), high-stakes testing, and “competency based” (“individualized”) education.

Gobert, whose company develops the software she lauds (no conflict of interest there), attempts to justify both the invasive data-mining and the NGSS, which have received poor reviews from many, varied organizations. She raises the favorite bogeyman of the establishment — American students’ 21st place in international rankings of science performance, supposedly endangering US global competitiveness. Yet, she ignores contrary data and research showing no correlation between these rankings and national economic performance.

More alarming is this paragraph, containing the kind of language that sends parents running for the exits of public schools and possibly towards attorneys:

Educational data mining offers more than the traditional statistics used on typical, multiple-choice tests. These high-fidelity data are in the form of log files from mouse clicks within the digital learning environment. They also measure and monitor things like students’ saccadic eye patterns as students learn from visual and textual information sources, data from sensors tracking facial expressions and posture, and more.

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Kasich Wins Praise From Corporate Education Establishment

Politics K-12, the Education Week blog, compared the remaining five presidential candidates on how well they have performed on implementing this list of education reforms:

  • Strongly back charter schools, and in some cases vouchers as well;
  • Think that accountability should present data-based information on schools in a fashion parents can easily grasp;
  • Believe that standardized tests are vital for gauging the performance and needs of students and schools;
  • Say the Common Core State Standards are a significant improvement over the previous mish-mash of states’ standards;
  • Distrust education labor unions in at least some key circumstances.

Obviously, this list is exactly the opposite of what many parents want, especially those that are fighting for academic quality, freedom of thought, educational freedom such as to choose to opt out, and data privacy for their children.  It is also why many presidential candidates are out of the race, including most prominently Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Education Week, considered one of the top establishment education publications, is funded by Bill Gates, the world’s largest funder and proponent of Common Core. The blog then goes on to describe how well Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich fits those criteria:

  • Has expanded the number of voucher programs in the state and is a big believer in charter schools. In fact, the number of students in charters in the state has continued to rise. However, in response to corruption and performance issues plaguing the states’ charters, last year, Kasich signed into law a bill designed to address Ohio charters’ most significant woes.
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Trump Lists Education Among Top Three Roles of Federal Government

Businessman Donald Trump has gained an incredibly loyal following attracted to his putative outsider status.  Significant numbers of education activists are happy, because he has frequently said, “Common Core is a disaster” and that we need to “make education local” — ostensibly by getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education — and has given the impression that the federal government should not be involved in education. For parents who have been fighting the horrific overreach of the US DOE in both No Child Left Behind and now ESSA, these statements have given people hope.

However, Trump added to his long string of contradictions and dizzyingly rapid position changes during last Tuesday’s presidential town hall on CNN. A combat veteran asked, “In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?” The tycoon responded that after security, the top functions of the federal government were education and health care. He then added housing. Here is the video of the exchange:

As is his pattern when questioned, Trump tried to walk his statement on education back a moment later, which turned into this steaming pile of incoherence:

ANDERSON COOPER: Aren’t you against the federal government’s involvement in education? Don’t you want it to devolve to states?

DONALD TRUMP: I want it to go to state, yes. Absolutely.  I want – right now…

But then when Cooper followed up again:

COOPER: So that’s not part of what the federal government’s —

TRUMP: The federal government, but the concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country, and we have to get rid of Common Core, and it should be brought to the state level.

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Jeb Bush’s Friends Spend Big to Support Student Data Grab

Just as the Common Core pushing textbook publishing giants like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson have had financial incentive to support Jeb Bush and his now former organization, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), corporate cronyism is also alive and well via those companies involved in Big Data.

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a corporate-backed front group that spends all its time trying to portray the ugly and invasive womb-to-tomb data grab and psychological profiling of our children as helpful, necessary, and the government’s right. They strongly support the incredibly invasive Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) which sadly has already passed the Senate after an unannounced voice vote, with fawning praise after an earlier version passed the House in 2014:

DQC sees immense value in the ability to link data across early childhood education, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems. The most pressing questions for education stakeholders (alignment, feedback, etc.) require data to be shared from disparate collections, which means that it’s vital to align these systems to effectively answer these questions. SETRA would require grantees to do that. By linking data systems across the P–20/workforce spectrum, states will gain the ability to evaluate whether students, schools, and districts are meeting their college- and career-readiness expectations. [Emphasis added]

DQC also loves having data on the workings of our children’s minds:

Early warning systems (EWS) are one of the best examples of transforming data into actionable information that, when used effectively, can improve student outcomes. EWS, developed around research-based indicators such as student academic performance (grades) and attendance and discipline records, help educators accurately and quickly identify students who are most at risk of academic failure, not being on track to graduate college and career ready, or dropping out of school.

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Tampa Bay Times Examines Rubio’s Involvement in Common Core

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times discussed Common Core’s role in the campaign of the two Florida presidential candidates, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. The article, titled “Rubio may oppose Common Core but has supported the ideas behind it,” lists several ways that Marco Rubio has supported the components of the Common Core system:

…while Rubio never advocated for Common Core, he was a proponent of the building blocks.

Bush on Thursday noted that Rubio had supported Race to the Top, the federal program that incentivized states to adopt Common Core.

I think that’s a good idea,” Rubio said in 2009. He did stress, however, that he felt “education is a state function, best regulated and governed at the state level.”

That year Rubio also praised Obama’s hire of Arne Duncan as education secretary, calling him an “innovator” while praising the federal government’s effort “encouraging” states to adopt curriculums “that reflect the 21st Century.”

Rubio’s 100 Ideas book, a template for his tenure as House speaker, endorsed ideas such as more testing and a revamped curriculum. Idea No. 2 called for Florida to “systematically and sequentially replace the Sunshine State Standards with a new, world-class curriculum comparable to those found in the leading education systems in the world.”

As Gary Fineout of The Associated Press pointed out Thursday, Rubio never asked state officials or Gov. Scott to stop Common Core from being adopted in Florida. (Amid the backlash, the state has simply whitewashed the words Common Core from official policy.) [See also Even Mainstream Media Question Scott’s Statements about Being Out of Common Core]

Obviously, Race to the Top and Arne Duncan were the means the Obama administration used to impose and spread the Common Core that was aided by Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education, as Rubio correctly pointed out. Continue Reading

Six Reasons Jeb’s Plan Fails to End Federal Tyranny in Education

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush released his education plan on January 18th.  In it, he tries hard to sound like he cares about and supports local control and parental autonomy. In fact, the document, on pre-K through grade 12 issues, is merely a kinder, gentler form of federal tyranny that continues unconstitutional government involvement in pre-K, high stakes testing, data mining, and K-12 education in general. The plan fails on multiple important fronts:

1.) Federal Involvement in Education

Since its creation in 1979, the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) has done untold damage to academic excellence, state sovereignty, and parental rights. At least $2 trillion have been spent with no improvement in academic achievement. 

Source: Cato Institute

 

The US DOE needs to be eliminated as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have called for and, in Paul’s case, have written legislation to accomplish. Bush’s plan does not attempt to do that, but rather lauds “…the limited, but critical role of the federal government to create the conditions necessary for every child to graduate from high school prepared for the demands of college or the workplace.” The federal government has NO constitutional authority to be involved in the education and career plans of American citizens, and its efforts to do so have been an abysmal failure.

Bush has taken credit for the disastrous and tyrannical Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and his document lauds its alleged “recent restoration of state control over accountability decisions” and is under the delusion that “as the newly reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act reinforces, states need to be held accountable for serving their citizens, not federal bureaucrats.”

First of all, ESSA was a bill that had 100 percent Democrat support with more Democrat votes than Republican — Democrats being the party that has given us Race to the Top, NCLB Waivers, Obamacare and federal funds for Planned Parenthood and other big government disasters. Continue Reading