Texas Schools Rush into Social and Emotional Learning: the ‘New Common Core’
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. August 8, 2016 Education Views
Texas declined the federal government’s efforts to force Common Core Standards into its schools. Yet now Texas is rushing headlong into implementing the ‘New Common Core.’
During the U.S. House proceedings for Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced No Child Left Behind, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, made the stunning statement that Common Core is being redefined as social-emotional learning (SEL), which must come first in the learning hierarchy -- with academics ranking second!
SEL is a dominant feature in the recent federal legislation, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind. The federal focus on education has shifted from academic learning to the “affective domain” -- feelings and emotions -- with requirements to measure progress.
Teaching character has been an important lesson in American public education until recent years. Students learned to be polite, honest, independent, resilient, and respectful of others. They learned to exhibit self-control, accept challenges and personal responsibility, value family and self, show empathy for and get along with others. There were no tests to measure their progress. No funding was required for additional teachers, textbooks, materials, and special teacher workshops.
However, the purpose of public education shifted under John Dewey’s teaching philosophy which is embedded in every government school. The focus on academic learning has turned to non-academic learning with the classroom serving as the engine for social and political change. Moral relativism replaced the teaching of character with its emphasis on ethics and morality. Love of America and pride in our national heritage were replaced with hatred for America, its Judeo-Christian heritage, and its traditional family values. With the loss of a moral compass, the school climate has turned deadly as students become violent, disrespectful for others, lacking in self control, and irresponsible.
After decades of being used as social engineering tools, students are so emotionally fragile that, as they enter college, many cannot cope with the rigors of the university and demand “safe spaces” where they can flee from reality.
Now in an effort to “fix” the problems that the public schools have created, the latest education fad of social and emotional learning is sweeping the nation.
In some independent school districts entire social and emotional department have already been created. The social engineering officially continues, now under the guise of “teaching the whole child.”
In the Austin, Texas independent school district, skills such as understanding and managing emotions, forming positive relationships, solving problems, and being optimistic have been integrated into the curriculum. Teachers are asked to spend 30-45 minutes a week teaching a lesson on an explicit skill. They have hired expensive consultants and created new programs and materials to formally teach what we once did for free.
In Dallas, Texas the Dallas Morning News (DMN) reports that the Dallas Independent School Board (DISD) has “…quietly passed a policy pushed by trustee Dan Micciche that requires social and emotional learning -- already used informally in some schools – to be taught in all classrooms over the next 10 years.” The DISD notes the program will follow that of the Austin ISD and questions whether federal funding can be obtained.
ESSA requires that at least one non-cognitive trait be assessed by the states and incorporated into their accountability systems. The dilemma is how to measure the progress.
Already policy makers and corporate leaders are demanding measurement. If a school district uses any taxpayer funding for their SEL program, they will be required to file more reports and to collect more highly personal information for student permanent records. Government-appropriate thoughts and behavior will be taught by the latest round of “experts.”
Already new consulting groups are hawking their wares and profiting handsomely at the expense of children who are labeled “human capital.”
Under ESSA, there will be even more federal controls despite what our Congress promised us.
But can social and emotional traits such as character be measured? Should we turn social and emotional learning into high stakes metrics for high stakes accountability? Not according to noted character psychologist, Angela Duckworth, who wrote, “But we’re nowhere near ready -- and perhaps never will be -- to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools. We shouldn’t be rewarding or punishing schools for how students perform on these measures.”
What once was free and inherently taught now will cost the taxpayer billions of dollars while the students are psychologically manipulated to alter their beliefs, values, and world views and forced to take psychological assessments. In a nutshell, their mental health will be evaluated according to government standards.
ESSA is an unconstitutional piece of legislation that is very dangerous for our American freedoms. Parents must demand that their state legislators stop the implementation of ESSA. Having one’s child psychologically profiled is yet another reason why school choice is sweeping across the nation.