Panelists at the South by Southwest (SXSW) EDU 2019 conference this week urged educators to make “social and emotional learning” (SEL) part of every core subject in K–12 classrooms.
The conference, according to its website, “fosters innovation in learning by hosting a community of optimistic, forward-thinking, purpose-driven stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning.”
Panelist Jessica Reid Sliwerski, CEO of Open Up Resources, reportedly calmed the nerves of anxious school professionals seeking to incorporate even more SEL into their already-crammed school days.
According to a report at Education Dive:
Sliwerski argued that equipping students with the necessary SEL skills during the school day doesn’t require additional programming. Instead, skills like conversation, collaboration, debate and reasoning should be infused into core subjects, including math and English language arts — similarly to how fluoride is infused in drinking water, ever-present and benefiting learners whether they actively realize it or not.
Similarly, Christina Riley, EL Education’s associate director of curriculum design, said educators must also have a strong understanding of SEL and their own skills.
Education Dive reports further:
In addition to promoting these skills in their own actions, educators should provide resources and tools guiding how those skills can be demonstrated, as well as protocols for giving students equitable opportunities to share their voice and for English learners to collaborate in their home language. Visual reminders around the room can also provide students with cues for discussion norms.
“SEL has no academic components and is clearly facing a tough sell by companies trying to drink from the public trough,” Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas, told Breitbart News. “How does one get school board members to ask questions about what it consists of? Surely, there must be at least one school board member in the country who wonders why no child psychologists or psychiatrists seem to be involved in advising on and evaluating the SEL ‘curriculum’ materials, in explaining to a superintendent and a school board why regular teachers can do what SEL salesmen suggest, and in supervising the SEL program in a school district?”
Stotsky added she has found no classroom-based studies on how a math or science teacher, for example, has integrated the development of social and emotional traits into that curriculum and then compared those results to a similar class that had not done so.
“I look at the bibliographies wherever I can when I see articles on SEL, and I have yet to find a classroom-based study,” Stotsky said.
Breitbart News reached out to U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), a national group of parent education activists, regarding the attempt to “infuse” yet more SEL into K–12 curricula.
“Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the new buzz-phrase authorizing public schools to ‘teach’ children politically correct thinking as well as values, attitudes, and beliefs,” the group responded. “Considering the move to ‘teach’ government school children, as early as Kindergarten, inappropriate sexual behaviors through new Comprehensive Sex Education Standards, and the wide-spread disdain for Christian values, USPIE believes the call to integrate SEL into core subjects of math, reading and writing is furthering the politicization of education.”
What appears to be the stark reality is that no longer is learning to read and write competently the primary focus of K–12 education in America’s public schools. Math, reading, and English are no longer good enough on their own.
There’s an emerging recognition that educators will be more successful if they consider students’ social and emotional development as they teach lessons and craft school policies.
— Education Week (@educationweek) March 8, 2019
Social and emotional learning — the vehicle that made so-called “white privilege” and “diversity” an easy push in schools, comes, after all, highly recommended by Congress and the Department of Education.
“The Every Student Succeeds Act requires other factors besides student achievement in their mandated accountability plan, which is a wide gateway for social emotional assessment and data collection,” Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, told Breitbart News in September. “State (Common Core) Assessments and The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — also known as The Nation’s Report Card — are already starting to include mindset and school climate questions either as surveys or as part of the tests themselves.”
What do we believe about a school culture that helps student thrive socially, emotionally, & academically? Loved talking about this with educators in Portland OR where they embrace #SEL @megangreen_ccc @WelanderSandra #collabclass pic.twitter.com/blBUeHggsN
— Mary Tavegia (@MTavegia) March 8, 2019
Even as U.S. schoolchildren are still floundering and failing on national and international assessments, in September, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos signed onto a declaration by education ministers of the Group of 20 (G-20) countries that called for putting education “at the center of the global agenda.”
“[S]tudents must be prepared to anticipate and adapt,” DeVos said. “They need to acquire and master broadly transferrable and versatile educational competencies like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and cultural intelligence.”
The G-20 education ministers urged “digital literacy,” which, they said, will “foster the inclusion of non-cognitive skills such as socio-emotional skills across the curriculum.”
Following the G-20 summit, DeVos told reporters the declaration is “very consistent with all of the themes that we’ve been talking about,” reported Education Week.
Teresa Mull, an education research fellow at the Heartland Institute, observed in a column at Townhall in March 2018:
Increasingly, more schools are adopting an aggressively progressive curriculum. In Minnesota, “School leaders adopted the ‘All for All’ strategic plan—a sweeping initiative that reordered the district’s mission from academic excellence for all students to ‘racial equity,’” TheWeekly Standard reported in February . Children in kindergarten are expected to become “racially conscious” and examine their “white privilege.” And leftists’ radical agenda is taking hold in a less blatant but no less toxic way in the rise of social and emotional learning (SEL), which presents just as much danger to parents, kids, and the education system as Common Core.
“SEL teaches kids to feel and not to think,” Mull wrote. “Traditional public schools, apparently determined not to teach kids history, how to read, spell, add, subtract, multiply, or anything useful, instead take on a role of psychotherapist (and not a good one).”
— Jesslyn Tyx (@moment2reasure) March 9, 2019
Last week, the president of the largest teachers’ union in the country kicked off the national event known as Read Across America not by encouraging higher-level reading skills in children, but by urging “diverse” literature that acknowledges transgender individuals in the content of reading material in classrooms.
— NEA (@NEAToday) March 3, 2019
“NEA believes diverse literature enables students to see themselves as the heroes of the story, while also showing them that all kinds of people can be the heroes too,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, in a statement. “It is important that we emphasize books that are telling children of color or of different gender identities that they belong in the world and the world belongs to them.”
USPIE is calling for a return to local control of education and classical curricula that emphasizes reading, writing, and math.
“Any serious teacher already knows effective communication skills are developed through careful instruction in reading, writing and speaking,” USPIE said. “Effective math teachers know how to motivate children beyond rote calculation and wrong answers through critical thinking and striving for accuracy.”
“Employers who want prepared and effective employees had better begin to realize these unproven education fads like Common Core, Competency Based Education and SEL are gimmicks with a political agenda,” the parents’ group asserted. “Parents should grab their kids and run as fast as they can!”