“It’s one thing to direct your own moral, ethical, and emotional development or that of your children,” said Jane Robbins, co-author of “Social-Emotional Learning: K-12 Education as New-Age Nanny State.” “But having a government vendor or unqualified public school officials implement an SEL curriculum based on coffee-table psychology is quite another.”

SEL is designed to change students values, beliefs and behaviors. Teachers conduct assessments of children’s emotional and social development, a task for which they are not trained or qualified, using assessment tools unsupported by underlying research. SEL assessments are included in children’s permanent school records, with uncertain privacy safeguards. SEL curricula, resources, and assessments may touch on private or sensitive matters without parental notice or consent.

Jane Robbins is an attorney and a retired senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington DC. She is a graduate of Clemson University and the Harvard Law School. She is an author, speaker, lobbyist, and researcher.

What’s wrong with schools’ teaching SEL with K-12 SEL standards?

  • Will place added burdens on teachers and reduce classroom instruction time.
  • Inevitably delves into, and may seek to change, student and family values.
  • Will necessitate breach of student and family privacy.
  • Is highly subjective, especially with young children, and will result in unreliable assessments and inappropriate “remediation”.
  • Even SEL proponents oppose rating schools with SEL measures
  • Will result in inclusion of this unreliable data in the student’s eternal digital records, thus risking exposure to breaches and misuse of the data in future years.
  • Will be carried out by inadequately trained personnel.
  • Do parents know about all that’s being implemented and taught, is there an opt out provision?
  • What other questions should be asked about SEL?
  • Whose standards or criteria will be used to decide what the right answers are for SEL questions?
  • Will parents have access to the assessments?
  • How will the state measure a bias of a child?
  • What behavior is “appropriate” and to what degree?
  • How will a child be remediated?
  • Will a child have to be referred for a mental-health diagnosis if he fails any assessment?
  • How much will it cost to implement SEL standards statewide? Where will the funding come from?

Action Steps

Volunteer with Truth in Education in your state to uncover SEL in your school district!

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