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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Why Are the Feds Psychologically Profiling Your Child?

By Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes  |  July 29, 2016    Education Views

John Stuart Mill, nineteenth century philosopher, characterized government schools in his 1859 treatise On Liberty“A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another…it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.”

That 19th century description fits 21st century American government schools.  In U.S. national education policy, increasing attention is being paid to “21st century competencies” which encompass a range of non-cognitive learning factors including grit, self and social awareness, self-control, empathy, trust, social awareness, and conflict resolution.  This signals a shift from academic learning to the “affective domain” -- feelings and emotions.

The latest idiotic fad in American education is “social and emotional learning” (SEL) with knowledge being passe′ -- we can Google for facts.  However, the underlying purpose is that, through SEL, the U.S. government is attempting to mold the minds of American students.  This is evidenced with SEL being a dominant feature of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which became law with President Obama’s signature in December 2015.   (Click here for House votes – Click here for Senate votes)


ESSA requires states to include at least one non-academic measure in judging school performance. “Grit” is the latest buzzword by education “experts” for social and emotional learning.Diane Ravitch, noted education historian, wrote in the New York Times, “Grading schools and teachers by their students’ “grit” borders on lunacy.”

Good teachers have always strived to instill good citizenship and good character in their students, says Ravitch.

Teaching children to persevere, to complete their work on time, to act courteously toward others, to accept success and defeat with equanimity is part of the everyday life of teaching and learning. It is not a separate subject.

Testing whether children are experiencing joy or learning “grit” is sheer nonsense. If by “grit” we mean resilience, that is best taught informally, in the classroom, at home, on the playing fields, in the hallways, in the lunch room.


ESSA created in federal law a $250 million program of competitive grants for state pre-K initiatives.  This is “Baby Common Core” with its own Race-to-the-Top funding. With these grants come the ESSA requirement to align the pre-K program to Head Start and Child Development Block Grants which are tied to national preschool standards and social emotional standards. The federal government now controls state pre-K programs – and assessments -- in addition to K-12.  This is the “cradle-to-grave” vision of Marc Tucker and Hillary Clinton in 1992.

Family Engagement Program

Title IV of ESSA mandates a Family Engagement program in each state that subordinates parents to the government in the rearing of their own children. There are SEL requirements as well as home visitations by government officials to determine how parents are caring for their children. Reports will be included in the child’s permanent record.During the U.S. House proceedings prior to the ESSA vote, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, made the stunning statement that Common Core is being redefined as social-emotional learning, which must come first in the learning hierarchy -- with academics ranking second!  

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, confirmed in a prepared statement that he was proud “the legislation includes language to help expand and make the teaching of social and emotional learning [Common Core] more effective!” 

This is a violation of the 4th Amendment right’s to privacy as well as the Supreme Court cases of Pierce v. Society of Sisters and Meyers v. Nebraska.  Both have affirmed the constitutional right of parent to direct the education and upbringing of their children.


SEL is also included in Bill S. 227, Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA), a proposed reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act.  That legislation created bureaucracies and funding for education research that includes collection of personal student data. The SETRA bill was passed in the U.S. Senate and referred to the House in December, 2015 where it is still pending.  If SETRA is passed, federal education research will be expanded to include social and emotional learning.


Beginning in 2017, the affective domain also will be assessed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often dubbed the “nation’s report card,” in a background survey.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has been weakened through regulatory fiat to strip consent requirements and broaden access to sensitive data by the federal government and private third parties without prior written parental approval.  

The student’s information is expected to be lodged in a permanent file via federally required state longitudinal databases. 

There is already much evidence that the government is trying to control how children believe, think, and behave through Common Core and Competency Based Learning.  

There is no constitutional or statutory authority or moral right for the government to collect data on any of these highly personal aspects of children. 

States and schools have a constitutional duty to provide an academic education.  They do not have a right to engage in psychological testing and manipulation of children.  Under the 10th Amendment, education lies solely with the states.  The federal government has no grounds for its role in education for any reason including standards, assessments, accountability and requiring the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

SEL is another insane education fad that is going to end badly, but not before much irreversible damage is created…to be followed by yet another dangerous fad -- “reform” – to resolve the  damage already caused – which will come with protests that more spending is needed.

Parents are already outraged with public education.  As they become more aware of the psychosocial mandate by ESSA, there will be increased test opt outs, widespread protests, greater demands on state legislatures for school choice, and an increase in home schooling.

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