Parents Beware Testing & Training All Students Mental Health
By Linda MurphyParents Beware… Testing& Training All Students’ Mental Health
But….. in this new plan ALL students are included in testing/screening for mental health, which is a dangerous new level of involvement in the hearts and minds of children.
Parents around the state have become very involved and vocal about the issues that directly effect their children at school. The lockdown of schools and concerns about their children’s health and learning galvanized them. Then the Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology come to the surface of public awareness, which set in motion legislative action creating a law “with teeth” that bans race based divisive concepts from being taught in Oklahoma public schools. Parents took a stand in large numbers to put a stop to indoctrinating their children. Yet CRT is only a “tip” of the iceberg.
We are not finished with the battle for Parents’ Rights in education. Parents have a right to know what their child will be taught before it happens. In a quest to identify students who have emotional needs, schools are implementing programs for “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL), mental health and testing for behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that indicate “risk” in the eyes of the creators.
The movement into this area accelerated in Oklahoma in 2018 when the State Superintendent held meetings where she advocated for early intervention for Mental Health for K-12th grades. To generate support, she highlighted a report that ranked Oklahoma as the ”worst state” in the nation for kids with the most Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). She promoted the idea that Oklahoma is the “worst state” and thus in urgent need for “Trauma Informed” teaching and mental health screening in K-12th grades.
To address these concerns, a new law was passed to train teachers in the use of a “Multi-Tiered” Support Services ( MTSS) system. It was described by a state official in a December 2020 interview with the National Council of State Legislators: “MTSS Framework of support is designed to address core academic and non-academic needs of all students using experience based, a data driven decision making model to identify students at risk for negative academic or even non-academic outcomes.”
We have “39 Agencies in Okla. which are public-private partnerships. They provide prevention and intervention services in all 77 counties. They work with schools and with individual families.” “We currently have school sites across the state that are building that framework through grants and we hope to have the MTSS framework in place in all 512 districts within the next 3-5 years.”
I have no doubt that there are many people with good intentions involved, but we should be very careful entering into this new territory. Students will be labeled according to their screening or testing and fall within one of the 3-tiers of services. Identifying students “at risk” in non-academic outcomes is a very dangerous new threshold to cross.
The MTSS system involves expanded collection of student data, which likely will be entered into an online data bank, in the long planned State Longitudinal Data System. Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) will serve as a model for an education technology system with teacher training to advance data collection and curriculum implementation. OKCPS will work with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), to which our State Superintendent belongs.
Funding for this project is being provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. If you are thinking this is about money, you’re right…. But it is also about advancing a centralized control system designed to learn more about our children and their thinking to provide a data profile of the “whole child.” This is eerily similar to the Chinese government’s collection of data on citizens. One has to wonder if Oklahoma’s State Superintendent became impressed with the Chinese education system when she went there in 2015 along with other CCSSO members to study their methods.
A quick look at Oklahoma City’s ISTE framework reveals psychological probing and data collection involving both teachers and students. It promotes the testing and training of students in “non-academic” areas including: equity, social emotional learning, unconscious and implicit bias, restorative justice and cultural responsiveness. Parents who are politically aware know the ideologies being forced to promote changes in a student’s attitudes, values and beliefs to match what certain “experts” say is “mentally healthy.”
From ISTE’s web page – “A New Framework for Activating Equity and Social Emotional Learning – SEL in the Classroom – It isn’t always clear to many educators how to implement SEL curriculum along with related pedagogies like restorative justice, trauma-informed teaching and culturally responsive teaching. As a result, I’ve seen many educators do their best to learn to integrate these critical concepts and skills on their own. That’s where the Equity and SEL Integration Framework highlighted in the ISTE guide SEL in Action: Tools to Help Students Learn and Grow comes in.” The elements in the framework are:
1. Understand CASEL 5, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s 5 core competencies. (CASEL is an extensive nationwide network which is committed to “Equity” and Social Emotional Learning. It was founded in 1994 by the Fetzer Institute. The Fetzer website – “Inspired by our founder John E. Fetzer, we encourage each other to discover new ways of knowing our sacred world and explore our personal spiritual journeys as we work toward transformed communities and societies in which all people can flourish.”)
One of the competencies is Self-awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes:
Integrating personal and social identities
Identifying personal, cultural, and linguistic assets
Identifying one’s emotions
Demonstrating honesty and integrity
Linking feelings, values, and thoughts
Examining prejudices and biases
Having a growth mindset
Developing interests and a sense of purpose
2. Assess your own unconscious and implicit biases.
3. Improve your knowledge of your students.
4. Help students develop emotional intelligence skills.
5. Activate SEL in your curriculum.
We all know there are children, teens and young adults that need more emotional support and some need serious intervention for their mental health problems. As a special education teacher, I have worked directly with many of these students. It is important that students receive help when they need it. But….. in this new plan ALL students are included in testing/screening for mental health, which is a dangerous new level of involvement in the hearts and minds of children.
Parents and other citizens in our state have done a great job finding out what children are learning this past school year. Keep it up and look closely at what your Local School District is implementing now. We have some excellent teachers and administrators who agree with parents’ concerns. There are others who are pushing the programs we oppose without regard for Parents’ Rights. One voice alone is hard to hear but a group of well-informed parents on the local level, later joined with others on the state level can remove or revise plans through legislation. We must preserve Parents’ and Students’ Rights! Our freedom depends on it!
Linda Murphy was Oklahoma Governor Keating’s Education Advisor, Deputy Commissioner of Labor for Workforce Education and Training, Administrator of the Eastern Oklahoma Department of Labor, Member of the State Job Training Coordinating Council, and the Governor’s School-to-Work Council. She was a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1994, 1998 and 2018. Murphy was appointed by Governor Keating as Secretary of Education but denied confirmation by the majority Democrat Education Committee, following her 49.5% statewide vote in 1994. She also served on the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. You may contact Linda at: firstname.lastname@example.org