Dr. Aida Cerundolo, a New Hampshire physician, exposed public schools in his state for giving secret mental-health assessments to elementary children without the parents’ knowledge in a piece he wrote last month in The Wall Street Journal. Naturally, stories like this seem to fall in the cracks, what with the national press always busy monitoring President Trump’s Twitter feed.
But here is a nice summary by The National Pulse:
Some K-8 students are being subjected to blanket screening by untrained, unlicensed personnel, with serious questions about use or protection of the resulting records. And parents not only haven’t consented to this process, they haven’t even been told it’s happening…
This is all part of so-called social-emotional learning (SEL), which is pushed by the new fed-ed bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA). Not that ESSA has to push very hard — the mammoth and monolithic K-12 education establishment, both federal and state, is partnering with corporate education cronies to get all children on the psychiatric couch. From there, the kids can be more easily shaped to demonstrate the kinds of mindsets and attitudes the government wants.
The New Hampshire tests are called the Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment, or DESSA. It was designed to “assess children’s ‘competencies’ in eight domains: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, goal-directed behavior, relationship skills, personal responsibility, decision-making, and optimistic thinking.”
Mind you, this evaluation is not clinically approved or licensed by any mental health institutions, but only by teachers not trained to handle the complex psychology of schoolchildren. According to Dr. Cerundolo, these teachers must answer 72 questions about each student in their class and assess if that student exhibits confidence, and how the child reacts to “insults and mean comments.”
As The National Pulse notes, who knows how a teacher can assess a student’s reaction to an insult if they have never been insulted, but then again, “The progressive-education establishment may be so obsessed with the alleged epidemic of ‘bullying’ that it assumes all students are victims.”
The goal with DESSA tests is to rate children on their behaviors and figure out which students need “intervention.” A teacher in New Hampshire concerned about the tests contacted Ann Marie Banfield, the education liaison for Cornerstone Action. Banfield warns:
“DESSA is there to rate students on their behaviors but then to offer intervention to improve their scores. Social awareness is one of the key competencies to ensure the students are aware and accepting of race and diversity. These software programs profit 3rd party vendors when they sell the program to your school district. The [vendor] then collects non-academic data on your child, rates your child’s behaviors and attitudes, then makes more money by selling products to correct them.”
What’s worse, these records aren’t kept confidential since they aren’t done by medical professionals. And thanks to the Obama administration gutting a regulation under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the results could be accessed by just about anybody and parents have no say.
The National Pulse rightly concludes:
This case study demonstrates that too many public schools no longer focus on imparting academic knowledge. Rather, egged on by the federal government and private players, they consider children to be patients in need of treatment to dislodge personality characteristics that don’t match the government’s preferred profile. Parents should demand answers about how much of this is going on in their children’s schools and tell the officials responsible: “Not with my child.”