Act Now to Help Congress Protect the Hearts and Minds of Our Children

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The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th.  As Congress wrangles on the federal budget or at least for a temporary extension (continuing resolution) until sometime after the November election, we have a golden opportunity to support the US House in protecting the hearts and minds of our children. 

The US House Appropriations Committee took some very commendable action in the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education bill with regard to the education budget in general and some important specifics. The most important one for parents concerned about privacy is the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). IES houses the federal education data-gathering, psychological-profiling and social emotional learning (SEL – otherwise known as indoctrination) apparatus of the federal government (see details below). The Senate Appropriations Committee has also passed its bill. Although the committee deserves credit and thanks for making some cuts to the FedEd apparatus (relevant details mentioned below), its cuts were generally much smaller than the House’s. It is definitely the House position that should be supported.

Here is the great news first:

Decreased Overall Education Budget (p.3) – The committee deserves praise for significantly decreasing the overall education budget by more than $1.5 billion compared to what was actually enacted and is being spent for 2016,  and by nearly $2.6 billion compared to the Obama administration request.  For those of us who want to “#EndFedEd,” this is a great step in the right direction! The Senate cut only $220 million over what was enacted for FY 2016 and $1.6 billion compared to the Obama/King request; therefore, it is the House position that should be supported.

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Cuts to IES Will Slow Data Mining, Mindset Profiling, and SEL Standards – The House bill cuts nearly $82 million from IES over what was spent last year, which is a real budget cut and a whopping $158 million less than the Obama administration requested. (The Senate’s cuts are much smaller, so the House position should be supported.) Fewer funds for this Big Brother agency will stop or slow down:

  1. Invasive Research – The federal  government wants to psychologically profile our children by doing “social emotional research” on them  via IES and the federal Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). This research results in many invasive, expensive, ineffective, and unconstitutional federal education programs.
  2. Indoctrinating Standards – Less money to the IES may help slow or stop groups like CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) that receives IES funding  vague, subjective SEL standards with assessments and data that will follow children for life. Kudos to Tennessee legislators and activists for standing up to this CASEL effort, but they should not have to fight the federal government as well.
  3. Profiling Assessment – IES also puts out the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), which is a stable long-term test, but which is now planning to illegally and unconstitutionally psychologically profile children by assessing subjective mindsets and school climate. The House budget specifically cuts NAEP funding.

Other welcome and important cuts in this budget include:

Fewer Funds for Mandated State Assessments (p. 120) – Perhaps if states receive fewer funds for mandated assessments, they will be more flexible in allowing districts to test their students as teachers, elected local boards, and parents see fit. Or this could just be that they are finished with the national PARCC/SBAC boondoggle and are transitioning to the constant and technology-based testing of competency-based education. The House committee bill authorizes $300 million dollars on assessments at the federal level, which is $78 million less than enacted in 2016 and $103 million less than requested in the 2017 Obama budget.

No Funds to Enforce Federal Title IX Bathroom/Locker Room Interference (p. 147) – The House bill stops federal bureaucratic enforcement of the unconstitutional and harmful transgender edict until the lawsuit filed by 23 states can be resolved in court. This is a great step in the right direction. “The Committee includes language prohibiting funds from being used to withhold Federal financial assistance to public education institutions subject to the May 13, 2016 Dear Colleague Letter published by the Departments of Education and Justice until an appropriate court determines violations have occurred.”

As with the GOP platform on education, while containing some great news, this budget bill also features very concerning and frustrating items.

Increased Nanny State Pre-K  (p. 4 and p. 95) – Apparently, neither appropriations committee has been reading the more than two dozen studies and other articles demonstrating that federal and state early-childhood programs show one or more of four different outcomes, all of them bad:  1) little or no benefit; 2) fade-out of beneficial effect; 3) academic harm; 4) emotional harm. Even center and center-left think tanks are starting to admit this. There is also much excellent similar analysis from Joy Pullmann, a Heartland Institute education research fellow, and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project. Sadly, the committee parroted the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush philosophy that “high-quality preschool improves school readiness and long-term academic success of children by supporting their academic and social-emotional skills.” The committee ignored all of that research and added $432 million in early-childhood funding, including the completely unnecessary $250 million for Preschool Development Grants in ESSA. In this case, the Senate actually did much better than the House, only increasing Head start by $35 million, but overall it still increased early-childhood spending by $310 million. Parents – hide your babies! Tell Congress you want real cuts in these pre-K programs!

School Improvement Programs – The House committee is now labeling some of the subjective, SEL and other educational experiments “School Improvement Programs” instead of “School Improvement Grants.” The House committee funded these Orwellian programs $366 million more than enacted last year and $241 million more than the utopian Obama administration requested. This is a case where the Senate did much better by actually cutting $256 million over what was spent last year and a great $623 million over the Obama request. Therefore, the Senate position should be supported.  Within this new designation of unconstitutional programs appear the following scary items:

  1. 21st Century Community Learning Centers – CNSNews.com reporter Barbara Hollingsworth described these programs as “Parent Replacement Centers” with the correct idea that they will turn into hubs for social engineering, while parents are reduced to  mere “breeders and feeders.” These schools have been lauded by both Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
  2. Student Support and Enrichment Grants (SSAE) – This is the new name and program home for all of the SEL (and social engineering) grants that were located in smaller, more individualized grants that were easier to monitor and have been around since No Child Left Behind passed in 2001. The House committee emphasized that “programs designed to support non-cognitive factors such as critical thinking skills, social skills, work ethic, problem solving, and community responsibility are an eligible use of funds under SSAE grants supporting a well-rounded education.” (Emphasis added). As Robert Holland of the Heartland Institute pointed out: “In plain language, this means the government will assess children every single step (or crawl) of the way, from cradle to career, to be certain they acquire all the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions the omniscient, omnipotent government deems they must have. SEL, baby, SEL.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please contact the following:

  • Speaker Paul Ryan at 202-225-0600
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at 202-224-2541
  • House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers at 202-225-4601
  • Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran at 202-224-5054
  • Your own U.S. House member or use the House Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121
  • Your two US senators or use the Senate Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

Thank them for being willing to decrease the education budget overall and for their great work to protect privacy by cutting the IES budget. Tell them that you support the House position on these items.

  1. Send them this compilation of major research studies showing the failure of government preschool programs and this compilation of quotes showing the subjectivity and dangers of SEL. Respectfully tell them that with $19 trillion in debt, we should not be spending $430 million more on failed preschool programs. Nor should the federal government be spending any of our hard-earned tax dollars to mold and monitor the thoughts and emotions of our children. Tell them that you want to see real and significant cuts in early childhood spending and that you support the Senate cuts for School Improvement Programs that teach and assess SEL.
  2. Be encouraged that all of our work together is making some progress.

The hearts and minds of our children belong in our hands as family, not the hands of some government bureaucrat. If we are to raise the next generation to understand and preserve our heritage of freedom, we must continue and not give up on this fight. Thank you!