GUEST POST:  Dear Dr. Grunewald, If You Think You’re Not Allowing The Teaching of CRT, What Do You Call Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?

GUEST POST: Dear Dr. Grunewald, If You Think You’re Not Allowing The Teaching of CRT, What Do You Call Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?

This is a guest post by an Edmond Public Schools (central Oklahoma) parent with three children in elementary grades.

Dear Dr. Grunewald,

Three of my children have attended Heritage Elementary school for 2 years and have had a wonderful experience. The teachers, counselors and administrators are amazing! 

I met with Mrs. Frank and the counseling staff on November 4 to discuss my children’s participation in the SEAL classes. I inquired about the curriculum and themes/topics covered in the sessions.

The curriculum being used is Conscious Discipline. The counselors at Heritage write their own lessons based on this curriculum. 

I was slightly familiar with Conscious Discipline since it was used at Clyde Howell where my oldest child attended pre-k, 8 years ago. I borrowed a book from the teacher and found it to be comparable to Love and Logic. These I feel were wonderful programs for elementary kids. However, upon returning home I decided to visit the Conscious Discipline website.

I was quite shocked at the description that popped up before clicking on the site link: Home – Social and Emotional Learning It reads: “Conscious Discipline believes that trauma-responsive social and emotional learning (SEL) is a lens through which transformational change in the areas of racial equality, equity and inclusion is not only possible but essential.” 

This sounds like a CRT, social justice, whatever you want to call it, platitude to me. A political indoctrination program for kids.

CRT is not just a legal theory taught at the college level. CRT is a movement, a conduit of identity politics which promotes the analysis of many aspects of society through the prism of racism and Marxist victim-hood mentality (oppressor vs. oppressed). 

It’s clear to me that CRT has been repackaged and renamed SEL. 

On the Conscious Discipline’s home page I also found the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) seal indicating that Conscious discipline has the CASEL SELect Program Designation. 

Until recently CASEL downplayed the leftist political bent of SEL, however CASEL CEO, Karen Niemi, announced in December 2020 that her company “has revised its definition of and framework for ‘socio-emotional learning’ to highlight the value of SEL as a weapon for social justice.” 

Karen Niemi. “We know from research that attention to students’ holistic learning and development can promote high-quality educational opportunities and outcomes for all children across race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation and other differences.

Importantly, SEL has potential to promote the academic, social and emotional development of all children. SEL can also help adults and students co-create more equitable schools and communities.

While SEL alone will not solve the deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help adults and students build more meaningful relationships and develop knowledge, skills and mindsets to interrupt inequitable policies and practices, create more inclusive learning environments and nurture the interests and assets of all individuals.

CASEL will work alongside researchers, educators and policymakers to address issues of identity, agency and belonging that are fundamental to human development” 

This is obviously a CRT/SEL school curriculum publisher’s clearinghouse. The NoVo Foundation is a funding partner of CASEL. NoVo focuses heavily on abortion rights, LGBT interests and left-wing economics. 

CASEL is basically a political lobbyist group promoting SEL programs in schools and in the workplace.

Here is just a sample of more articles and/or statements that raised CRT red flags from the Consciousness Discipline website: Conscious Discipline – CASEL Program Guide – This is the curriculum description “Strategies supporting educational equity””Conscious Discipline offers strategies for working with bias. This includes training for adults to examine bias and understand how it creates barriers to authentically connecting with students, assessing students SEL needs, and responding to conflict constructively and impartially. “Supporting Racial Equity: Essential Next Steps for Conscious Discipline – The screenshot below captures what Dr. Becky Bailey said on July 29, 2020:

SEL as a Lever for Equity: 5-Part Webinar Series from CASEL – Posted on August 11, 2020 by Conscious Discipline:

“Conscious Discipline believes that trauma-responsive social and emotional learning (SEL) is a lens through which transformational change in the areas of racial equality, equity and inclusion is not only possible, but essential.” (See more in the screenshot below)

“However, Conscious Discipline recognizes that SEL alone isn’t enough to resolve longstanding inequities. We must directly promote equity, listen and learn from one another, and have conversations that feel challenging or uncomfortable.”

I guess “conversations that feel challenging or uncomfortable” means showing my kids Raising Antiracist Kids: 9 Steps from Ibram X. Kendi – the guy who thinks my kids are racist because they have white skin – but here he is promoted by Conscious Discipline.

Dr. Grunewald, does CASEL’s revised definition of and framework for SEL align with our SEAL program? 

How do you ensure EPS SEAL curriculums are not promoting the tenets of HB 1775?

You said in your response to the public comments made at the November 1 meeting and Wednesday night on News 9 that EPS does not teach CRT and is only taught in law schools. CRT has invaded all sectors of academia, including education. 

I beg to differ and I now believe Consciousness Discipline to be rooted in CRT. 

How is EPS using this – or any other CASEL-approved program or curriculum – NOT violating HB 1775?

The EPS website does not have any information regarding SEAL curriculum. While trying to find out what curriculum was being used SEAL, I came across a June 22, 2020 write-up:​ Sunset Counselor Wins Award and $10,000 Prize – Edmond Public Schools. The article states:”Ms. Bointy” has been a pioneer in using the Sanford Harmony social and emotional learning program.”At the end of the article, it states:”Sanford Harmony has been recognized by CASEL as a quality program.”I did some digging around on the Harmony page and clicked on the Research tab at the very top of the page.

I learned “Students participating in Harmony reported significantly more diverse friends than did those from control groups. Furthermore, these peer influences were related to improved writing and math performance in classrooms using Harmony, but not in control classrooms.”(DeLay, et al., 2016). 

Why is an SEL program concerned about collecting data on students and their friends? 

From the Harmony-Inspire Rebuilding Communities Tool-Kit page 9, titled: “How can we foster diversity and inclusion in our communities and support many students who have seen and experienced unrest and inequity?”Item 2 says:”Support students in developing their critical thinking skills and forming inclusive attitudes by providing students the tools to identify and reject stereotypes and seek friendships with a diverse group of peers. These skills help them be advocates for themselves and their families, peers, and community members now and in the future. Explore developmentally appropriate critical thinking skills about stereotypes and developing empathy for other points of view in the “Pop that Stereotype” activity.”

Is Ms. Bointy still teaching this CRT-laced program? If so, she and EPS are violating HB 1775.
The U.S. Department of Education has been pushing schools by providing funding and training in physiological, attitudinal and behavioral standards (SEL) for years. ESSER funding can be and are being used by EPS to purchase more SEL curriculum – ostensibly to curb ‘learning loss’. 
How does SEL address learning loss? I think more academic subjects should be taught to address that issue instead – art class for all elementary students, handwriting, spelling or more of the core subjects. 

Who decides what attitudes, mindsets, values and beliefs should be taught and promoted to a child? You? The government? 

No. We the parents do. There is subjectivity among adults who develop SEL curriculum that reflects their attitudes, mindsets, values and beliefs that is then taught to a class which is a group. 

SEL/CRT is pushing collective values over individual values. Impressionable elementary children and children undergoing puberty with incomplete pre-frontal cortexes are being influenced to act or think how a group or teacher or school district says or does in order to belong or be “canceled” by the group if they have a different viewpoint. Does a school have any business defining these competencies and teaching them? No. 

Why is teaching Great Expectations not enough SEL for Edmond Public School students? 

I don’t want someone else deciding who my children are – I want my children to develop their own sense of self.


Emily Wright