Six Reasons Why The Oklahoma State Legislature Should Ban The Use of SEL – Social Emotional Learning – Through SB1442
Last year, the state Legislature – prompted by outcry from parent and taxpayers across the state and the nation – passed HB1775, a rejection of the teaching of tenets tied to Critical Race Theory.
Unfortunately, CRT tenets are still entering classrooms around the state, packaged under the heading of Social Emotional Learning.
WHAT IS SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Social Emotional Learning is a theory which, according to the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), became an “essential part of education” “through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible caring decisions.”
CASEL also goes on to say that “SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy and just communities.”
While every parent wants their child to have traits like empathy and every teacher wants a classroom of children who can manage their emotions, SEL programming does much more.
Like so many before it – Outcome Based Learning and Common Core to name a few – SEL has been federalized through numerous grant programs and school accountability requirements. With the carrot of $122 billion dollars in funding via Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) funds, the Biden Administration has lured schools into a program that fosters philosophies steeped in race, with which many parents and taxpayers disagree.
CONCERNS WITH SEL:
#1 Brings CRT Concepts Into Schools and Classrooms
Karen Neimi, the President and CEO of CASEL (Collaborative for Academic Social Emotional Learning) makes it clear throughout a nearly 50-minute video, that, “We believe that our work in Social Emotional Learning must actively contribute to anti-racism” and that CASEL has “prioritized issues of equity in the center of our work for a long time.”
Deena Simmons, Ed.D, Assistant Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and an Associate Research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center advocates that, “You can’t be trauma informed if you’re not talking about racism. Without an anti-racist lens, SEL is white supremacy with a hug”.
One Edmond mother recently researched an SEL program being used in her child’s classroom – Conscious Discipline – and found a letter written by founder Becky Bailey, in which she says that her program is “based on and steeped in inclusion” and that they will train their employees in “anti-racist” goals, using Ibram X Kendi’s “Raising Antiracist Kids” and CASEL’s “SEL as a Lever for Equity”.
Dr. James Lindsay explains the mechanisms by which SEL is used to bring CRT concepts into classrooms in a video interview, and Dr. Susan Berry cites numerous articles which bring awareness to this fact in ‘Social Emotional Learning’ Now a Vehicle for Critical Race Theory”.
Oklahoma passed HB1775 in 2021. This bill specifically states, “Any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited.” Because CASEL’s specifically stated goals include race stereotyping and bias, SEL programming should be banned from classrooms under the law.
#2 CASEL Foundation Supporters Have Leftist Political Philosophies
CASEL Foundation ‘supporters’ are also a cause for concern. Bill and Melinda Gates have been tied to a slew of ‘education reform’ issues beginning with the Obama education reforms in 2008 which have been completely unsuccessful such as Common Core, School Turnaround and teacher effectiveness initiatives.
The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation uses AI to ‘democratize’ data, and uses data to establish racial equity and create climate change solutions.
New Profit is an organization dedicated to raising money to fight social injustice and to establish racial equity through influencing government.
The NoVo Foundation is funded by Warren Buffet. “NoVo also increased our funding to a wide variety of organizations focused on ending violence, giving voice and generally lifting up the truth about systems that have continually oppress (sic) girls and women – Black. Brown. Indigenous. Cis. Trans and gender non-conforming.”
The Raikes Foundation seeks to create systems that will better empower marginalized communities and create a more just and equitable world.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation promotes socialized health care and bemoans the effects of climate change on “health and equity”.
Wallace – “Our mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people…”
#3 SEL Trains Students As Activists
CASEL cites 10 ‘indicators’ of ‘high quality’ SEL implementation. The first four are; ‘Explicit SEL Instruction’, SEL Integrated with Academic Instruction, Youth Voice and Engagement and Supportive School and Classroom Climates.
Number 3 involves teaching students to use their voice (agency) to advocate for change.
In this video about ‘Schoolwide SEL: Youth Voice and Engagement”, we hear from Mayrydennia Perez, a student who explains how, in 10th grade, students didn’t like a class they were given so they protested. This involved the entire 10th grade class walking out of school and Mayrydennia was very happy to report that the Administration ‘listened to them’ and the class was changed the next year.
Children are not adults. Giving children ‘agency’ – autonomy – to defy school administration, teaches children they have a power they don’t have the worldview yet to process rationally. Giving students ‘voice’ and teaching them to engage on issues is not giving students more responsibility, it’s teaching students to use their emotions to react as activists – I don’t like this, so instead of finding a calm, rational solution, I’m going to get mad and walk out. How does THAT help students manage their emotions?
#4 SEL Uses Lots of Behavioral Surveys
School climate surveys are used to gauge students’ feelings about different factors associated with their school under the guise of creating ‘supportive schools’. Here are some questions that can be found on Oklahoma’s School Climate Survey:
- Do you know what consent means?
- During the past 12 months have you experienced sexual activity when you did not want to?
- During the past 12 months has your dating partner hit, slapped (sic) or physically hurt you?
- Do you currently receive sexual health information? If so, from where?
- Do you feel like your school supports and affirms your identities?
- Choose 3 topics you would like to learn more about: pregnancy, bullying, substance use, mental health, violence prevention, sexual health, LGBTQIA+, other
Data is then compiled into a spreadsheet so that the ‘risk profile’ of the student can be determined and a student effectively pigeonholed by his or her behavior.
Another SEL survey called Success Highways is given to students in middle school through 10th grade in Oklahoma. The results tell the administrator of the survey the level of academic ‘risk’ for the student in several different categories.
Here are some questions on the Success Highways questionnaire:
- The reason I keep coming to school is because if I don’t I’ll get punished
- In the past week, how often have you experienced breaking things when angry
- In the past week, how often have you experienced feelings of danger
- In the past week how often have you experienced nightmares
- In the past week how often have you experienced overeating
- In the past month how often did you have difficulty paying for recreation and entertainment
These surveys are given in ‘advisory’. The main questionnaire was over 100 questions with other smaller surveys given depending upon the topic. A concerned Edmond mom took a considerable amount of time researching Success Highways and found it linked to ‘Emancipatory Communitarianism’ a form of social justice, among other issues.
A federal law the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) passed in 1978 protects children from surveys or questionnaires that ask:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; 2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family; 3. Sex behavior or attitudes; 4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; 5. Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships; 6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers; 7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or 8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility
Schools MUST send out letters to parents describing the survey and ask for permission to give their child the survey. Unfortunately, this only applies to surveys administered using federal funds and schools get around this caveat by having an in-state agency (OSDE, OSDH) administer the survey as in the case of the CDC Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, or they simply don’t provide them to parents as in this opt out form for School Climate Surveys.
Schools should NOT collect behavioral data on students for numerous reasons:
- Whether there is an active parent in the home or not, parents MUST be the ones dealing with their child’s behavior – not a public school. Parents know their children MUCH better than anyone else and behavioral data collected at school is only as good as the context in which it’s collected.
- Often, students lie on surveys to be funny or because they don’t want to answer the questions truthfully. Answers are collected and recorded, leading to improper data collection and results.
- Many schools are not trained to collect and analyze data and as such data can be misapplied and results meaningless.
- Data is not safe and parents have no say or knowledge as to how the data is disseminated or to whom, leaving their child’s behavioral profile to be used to sell further educational products or used in ways that could expose the child.
#5 Not All School Counselors Respect Parent Authority OR HB1775
A recent blog involving a walk through the Oklahoma State Department of Education website involved a great deal of connection with the American School Counselors Association (ASCA).
Further research found that the ASCA is another organization steeped in the philosophy of racial justice. An article on their website titled, “Racial Justice Starts At School” indicates that one of the primary functions of school counselors is to “address racism and bias in their school counseling programs.”
In fact, the article goes on to say that, according to the 2020 State of the Profession survey report, “About 42% of school counselors said they are monitoring student behavior to identify racist behavior or speech, 38% are providing individual counseling and 35% are providing classroom lessons…”
This kind of monitoring should be frightening to parents whose children could be counseled for racist ‘behavior or speech’ when there was none such meant. What about children 3 In addition, how in the world could this kind of counseling be done without violating the tenets of HB1775?
Several parents have reported that, following Success Highways surveys, counselors have called their children in to their office for counseling. Once the parents became aware of the practice, the counselor stated that their child was in a ‘low-risk’ category (the risk category never explained to them) and did not require parental notification for counseling. This is a clear violation of Parent’s Rights and should not be allowed.
Then there’s the fact the school counselors have Common Core like “Mindsets and Behaviors” standards – specific behaviors which children should exhibit in order to be ‘successful’ students. Never mind that every student is different and success is as different for each as they are from another. Counselors collect behavioral data on students through these standards.
#6 Teachers Do Not Need A National Program To Help Children
Though SEL has been in classrooms in some form for years, teachers have been helping children develop character by prescribing classroom responsibilities for many decades without it. Good teachers have always had rules in their classrooms to inform students of the ways in which they must manage their own behaviors – raise your hand before asking a question, no talking when the teacher is talking, no hitting or bullying – a program to do this is simply unnecessary and a waste of dollars and time that could be better spent studying academics.
It seems completely bizarre that, while Oklahoma’s NAEP scores have continuously fallen in nearly ALL subjects, schools are now stopping class to have children talk about their feelings in a classroom not staffed by a trained behavioral psychologist.
It’s also a bit bizarre that ESSER funds were meant, in part, to be spent on SEL programs to mitigate student ‘trauma’ resulting from COVID school closures, yet schools created the crisis they now want to mitigate. In fact, numerous studies have indicated that school closures caused students more harm than the virus itself.
It appears that much of the push for SEL is being driven by rising discipline problems in classrooms and schools over the years, made worse by a Dear Colleague letter sent to all US schools asking them to adopt discipline polies that would promote equity in classrooms. This letter resulted in numerous problems in classrooms around the country as schools became unwilling to discipline special education or students of color.
SEL behavioral programming will accomplish little to nothing until administrators allow teachers to discipline students who provide disruption in the classroom. Disruptive students should be removed from class to allow the rest of the class to learn. Once removed, administrators should work with parents to help the child realign their behaviors and return successfully to the classroom. Why put a program in place to deal with an entire class of children when administrators could simply deal with discipline problems on an individual basis?
True, some parents do not parent their children and some children have deep-seated behavioral issues, yet nothing prevents schools from working with individual students in these circumstances by referring them to state, or private, behavioral assistance – all children should not be placed in behavioral training for the few students who need it.
Sadly, SEL programs will not help the fact that many Oklahoma schools say one thing, but do another. What good does it do to have SEL in every classroom, yet when a student reports something as serious as sexual assault, nothing is done by the Administration to rectify the situation? This has happened more and more often, as administrators abdicate their role in school discipline as seen in both Shawnee and Bixby recently.
In closing, like so many other federalized educational programming, SEL will not produce the results desired and has the very large potential to in fact, inject harmful and unlawful philosophies into classrooms.
Supplemental Links and Information:
New Study Finds Multiple Problems with Push for Social-Emotional Learning in K-12 Education (https://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/new-study-finds-multiple-problems-with-push-for-social-emotional-learning-in-k-12-education/)
Oklahoma School Climate Risk Screening Scale (https://www.scribd.com/document/523717182/Oklahoma-School-Climate-Student-Risk-Screening-Scale)
Oklahoma High School Climate Survey (https://www.scribd.com/document/523755206/HS-Student-Climate-Survey-1)
Social Emotional Learning, Part 1: The New Age Nanny State (https://idahofreedom.org/social-emotional-learning-part-1-the-new-age-nanny-state/)
Social Emotional Learning, Part 2: How SEL Became A Vehicle For Critical Race Theory (https://idahofreedom.org/social-emotional-learning-part-2-how-sel-became-a-vehicle-for-critical-race-theory/)
Social Emotional Learning, Part 3: How Did This Happen In A State Like Idaho (https://idahofreedom.org/social-emotional-learning-part-3-how-did-this-happen-in-a-state-like-idaho/)
Social Emotional Learning Now A Vehicle For Critical Race Theory (https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/03/09/social-emotional-learning-now-a-vehicle-for-critical-race-theory/)
Social Emotional Learning: The Dark Side (https://nancyebailey.com/2018/03/19/social-emotional-learning-the-dark-side/)
Emotional Learning Will Be The Downfall of Society (https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/emotional-learning-will-be-the-downfall-of-society)
Jenks Directs Parents To ‘Social Justice’ Materials (https://www.ocpathink.org/post/jenks-directs-parents-to-social-justice-materials)
Pushback Against SEL Bubbles Up In Idaho (https://www.edweek.org/leadership/pushback-over-sel-bubbles-up-in-idaho/2020/02)
“Meatless Mondays” and The Rise Of Social Emotional Learning in Schools (https://fee.org/articles/meatless-mondays-and-the-rise-of-social-emotional-learning-in-schools/)
What’s So Great About Social Emotional Learning (https://truthinamericaneducation.com/social-emotional-learning/great-social-emotional-learning/)
Gasp! How Will We Educate Without Social Emotional Learning (https://truthinamericaneducation.com/social-emotional-learning/gasp-how-will-we-educate-without-social-emotional-learning/)
Trading Academics for Far Left ‘Social Emotional Learning’ (https://illinoisfamily.org/education/trading-academics-for-far-left-social-emotional-learning/)
Using Schools To Retrain Kid’s Emotions – What Could Possibly Go Wrong Here (https://thefederalist.com/2016/12/14/using-schools-retrain-kids-emotions-possibly-go-wrong/)
How Social Emotional Learning Could Harm Our Kids (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness/how-social-emotional-learning-could-harm-our-kids/)
Using Schools To Retrain Kid’s Emotions – What Could Possibly Go Wrong Here (https://thefederalist.com/2016/12/14/using-schools-retrain-kids-emotions-possibly-go-wrong/)
Schools Ditch Academics For Emotional Manipulation (https://thefdrlst.wpengine.com/2016/10/19/schools-ditch-academics-for-emotional-manipulation/)
How Social Emotional Learning Became Another Vehicle For Anti-White Racism In Schools (https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/08/how-socio-emotional-learning-became-another-vehicle-for-anti-white-racism-in-schools/)
Zuckerbucks Aren’t Just Tampering With Elections, They’re Tampering With Your Kids’ Education (https://thefederalist.com/2021/08/02/zuckerbucks-arent-just-tampering-with-elections-theyre-tampering-with-your-kids-education/)
Social-Emotional Learning and Teachers Students Love? Teachers in Los Angeles! (https://nancyebailey.com/2019/01/22/social-emotional-learning-and-teachers-students-love-teachers-in-los-angeles/)