Do SEL Programs Need to Be Defined Better to Make Them Less Controversial?

Do SEL Programs Need to Be Defined Better to Make Them Less Controversial?

By Kurt Rohrs |

Recent legislation mandates that public schools offer Mental Health Instruction and Social and Emotional learning (SEL) programs to their curriculum. But the legislation does not specify what those programs should consist of.

However, companion legislation does offer some guidance on SEL instruction by prohibiting instruction typical of Critical Race Theory (CRT) doctrine from being presented in classrooms.

The legislation gives seven specific prohibitions on social instruction: It prohibits teaching that:

1. One race, ethnic group or sex is inherently morally or intellectually superior to another race, ethnic group or sex.

2. An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

3. An individual should be invidiously discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

4. An individual’s moral character is determined by the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

5. An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed by other members of the same race, ethnic group or sex.

6. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of the individual’s race, ethnicity or sex.

7. Academic achievement, meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race, ethnic group or sex to oppress members of another race, ethnic group or sex.

Parents are concerned that SEL programs may still be used to usher in controversial political and social ideologies concerning race relations (CRT), child sexuality (CSE) and neo-Marxist political doctrine (“Equity” as Wealth Redistribution), which may be buried in the details of certain programs. Parents would probably be far more comfortable if these ideological considerations were carefully scrubbed from SEL curriculum.

It may be far more effective to base SEL programs on agnostic, apolitical concepts that are generally accepted across cultural boundaries and are not agenda driven by activist special interest groups. Programs that focus on good character and positive behaviors, instead of specific identity group grievances and restitution typical of cultural Marxist doctrine, would most likely find far greater support in the community.

Here are several positive social behaviors that are generally accepted across many cultures that we used to present to students and which generated little controversy. Perhaps we never should have gotten away from these fundamental principles of behavior.

TRUSTWORTHINESS

    • Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal.
    • Have integrity. Do what you say you’ll do.
    • Keep your promises.
    • Be loyal. Stand by your values.

RESPECT

    • Follow the Golden Rule.
    • Be accepting of differences.
    • Be courteous to others.
    • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
    • Be considerate of others’ feelings.

RESPONSIBILITY

    • Do what you are supposed to do. Try your best.
    • Persevere. Keep on trying.
    • Be self-disciplined.
    • Think before you act. Consider the consequences.
    • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes.

FAIRNESS

    • Play by the rules.
    • Take turns and share.
    • Be open-minded. Listen to others.
    • Don’t take advantage of others.

CARING

    • Be kind.
    • Be compassionate.
    • Express gratitude.
    • Forgive others.

CITIZENSHIP

    • Do your share to make your home, school, and community better.
    • Cooperate.
    • Stay informed. Vote.
    • Be a good neighbor.
    • Make choices that protect the safety and rights of others.
    • Protect the environment.

“Whole Child” Concept

The newest iteration of SEL appears to be the “Whole Child” initiative, which combines the academic education of children and the management of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The “Whole Child” initiative is driven primarily by the Association of Supervisors and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in an apparent effort to expand government agency influence into the home life and parenting of children. It is described by the Whole School, Community, and Child (WSCC) model as having 10 components:

  1. Physical education and physical activity
  2. Nutrition environment and services
  3. Health education
  4. Social and emotional climate
  5. Physical environment
  6. Health services
  7. Counseling, psychological, and social services
  8. Employee wellness
  9. Community involvement
  10. Family engagement

Other collaborators are the Priscilla Chan/Mark Zuckerberg Initiative and Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Both these collaborators’ organizations have been criticized recently for surreptitiously weaving controversial Social Justice doctrine into seemingly innocuous education programs.

Whole Child programs can take on a variety of forms. The Chandler Unified School District’s approach includes several specific, and far less controversial, programs such as:

    • Athletics
    • Art Masterpiece                                   
    • Mandarin Dual Language                       
    • Academy and Traditional Schools
    • Special Needs Programs
    • Band and Orchestra
    • Spanish Dual Language
    • Gifted Programs
    • STEM Programs

There seems to be no generally accepted guidelines on SEL programs and the proper balance of academic instruction (the realm of teachers) and social instruction (the realm of parents). Both communities appear to be encroaching upon each other’s “turf” with parents recoiling about intrusive social instruction in the classroom and teachers dismayed about alternative school choice options being exercised by parents because of their discomfort.

It is long past time to resolve these conflicts with clear and distinct boundaries with respect to the education of, and raising of, children. Our children will be the ones who benefit most.

Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.

Are Stressed Out Teachers Being Asked to Do Too Much?

Are Stressed Out Teachers Being Asked to Do Too Much?

By Kurt Rohrs |

As we see a steady stream of experienced teachers leave the profession, we should be questioning why they are leaving. Maybe it is not always about money.

If teachers are expected not only to educate our kids, but now to raise them as well, perhaps we should consider that teachers may not realistically be able do all the things they are being asked to do.

Teachers usually come to love their kids, care about them deeply, and want what is best for them. It is part of what being a teacher means. But is there a limit to how much intervention a teacher should have in a child’s life?

We are now seeing an aggressive effort by Progressive Liberals to reshape American society to match their own personal preferences. This has become most evident in school classrooms where there appears to be a deliberate intent to influence children to accept their particular worldview. So, are teachers now expected to step in front of parents to drive these controversial ideologies?

This is leaving parents concerned and dismayed by the social conditioning that is being exposed in the classrooms with regard to sexuality, race relations, and political ideologies. They are also becoming more agitated and outspoken as they perceive their own children being weaponized against them. 

So are Progressive Liberals, in the form of “Woke” activists, engaging in a deliberate effort to pit teachers against parents in a rather ruthless bid to gain political power and control?

Are these activists now simply using teachers as tools to accomplish their political goals? This would be deeply disrespectful to the profession. If this realization sets in for teachers, it is quite doubtful that they will appreciate being used in this way. And hopefully, they will start to turn away from this scheme.

But teachers aren’t the only ones affected. Children can also feel caught in the middle between parents and teachers, which could leave them traumatized by this contrived conflict. It’s like children who watch their mother and father argue at the dinner table and, wanting to please both, don’t know which way to turn. This cannot be a healthy and positive situation for children. It is of little wonder that we seem to have more children displaying mental and emotional health issues than before. They are being unnecessarily over stressed.

We have also seen national teachers’ unions trying to bully, intimidate, and discredit parents who dare to question their efforts to control dialogue in the classrooms. They label these parents as “Domestic Terrorists” and threaten that dissenting parents be sanctioned by the Justice Department.

Because of these aggressive activities, there is a concern that the bond of trust between parents and teachers is being frayed almost to a breaking point. This is a great disappointment. Now, more parents want to pull their children out of public schools because of the dissatisfaction with this type of undesirable social conditioning. Many feel that their children are being taken away from them, so they are responding by removing these children from that perceived threat.

There is a responsibility for teaching professionals to develop and maintain healthy and positive relationships with parents, to explain to parents what they are teaching and why, to define the limits of their intervention in the raising of children, and to reassure parents that they are not trying to replace them. They must convince parents that public schools are the best place to send their kids—and that there are well understood boundaries of what will and will not be presented to their kids in the classrooms.

Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.

The Chandler Unified School District Must Refocus Its Priorities and Improve Its Transparency

The Chandler Unified School District Must Refocus Its Priorities and Improve Its Transparency

By Kurt Rohrs |

Just what exactly are the priorities of the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD)?

Every parent and taxpayer would love to know. But unfortunately, these priorities do not seem to be clearly presented in any readily available public communication. This makes it difficult to understand what the district is doing, why they are doing it, or hold them accountable for their performance. It’s time for the district to be much more transparent with the public.

That’s why I would like to suggest these five priorities for CUSD, which should be communicated clearly and made readily available to the taxpaying public that supports them.

  1. Catch up on learning loss from recent school closures. Some information indicates that our students are up to two years behind on their academic achievement. Many are falling behind, and CUSD must take this seriously.

  2. Ensure that Reading and Math proficiency is greater than 50% at every school. CUSD should direct massive amounts of resources to any school that falls far below this standard.

  3. Increase student retention. The district must compete effectively to increase their headcount by better satisfying the demands of parents who will ultimately make the decisions on which schools their children attend.

  4. Increase staff retention. It is critical to reduce the turnover rate for Certified (Teaching) Staff and Classified (non-Teaching) Staff. But CUSD must remember that issues with staffing aren’t always about money. While that is certainly something that needs to be examined, staff working conditions should be carefully considered as well. And the district should ultimately work to determine the primary reasons that staff leave their positions and take appropriate corrective actions.

  5. Improve career and technical education. CUSD should refocus attention back to developing practical knowledge instead of social conditioning. The primary mission should be to develop functional adults capable of supporting themselves and contributing economically to the community.

If CUSD is serious about the future of its students, it must refocus its priorities. And it should take a much more pragmatic approach to its communication. This will not only make the district more relevant, but it will improve engagement with the community, especially the parents who have the ultimate say in how their children are educated.

Kurt Rohrs is a candidate for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. You can find out more about his campaign here.

Acclaimed Twitter Account Warning Arizona Parents About Radical Leftists Suspended

Acclaimed Twitter Account Warning Arizona Parents About Radical Leftists Suspended

By Corinne Murdock |

This week, Twitter silenced another prominent conservative voice — this time, one relied on heavily by parents and older generations distant from today’s social media fads. Libs of TikTok, the social media account that offered parents insight on what the world was exposing to their children through educators and pop culture, was suspended for 12 hours on Twitter. The social media giant said that the account’s content violated rules on hateful conduct: promoting violence against, threatening, or harassing other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliatoin, age, disability, or serious disease. 

Effectively, Twitter implemented its “account-level enforcement” of “placing an account in read-only mode.” Twitter noted that it saved these account-level tactics for “particularly egregious” or repeated violations of its rules. 

The account launched in November 2020, reposting videos from the Chinese social media app TikTok in order to display a more comprehensive view of the left’s political ideology. It began to pick up more popularity last summer, jumping from under 100 likes to several hundred to thousands within months. The account owner’s identity remains anonymous, but virtual anonymous interviews revealed that the owner is female. 

According to social media analyses, Libs of Tiktok’s most-used words included, in order: teacher, students, school, parents, and kids. At the time of her suspension, she had close to 612,000 followers. The highest number of retweets achieved on one tweet revealing that a school nurse was suspended over “transphobic comments” reached over 6,000, while the highest number of likes reached over 26,000 on a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson praising her work.

News of the account’s suspension came from Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee: a satire news company that was banned from Twitter. The satire site’s ban occurred after it published the story, “The Babylon Bee’s Man Of The Year Is Rachel Levine,” poking fun at the current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) assistant secretary of health.

As evident, the offending content of both Twitter accounts remain available. However, Twitter stipulated to The Babylon Bee that it must remove the offending tweet before it may access its account. Twitter placed no such stipulation on Libs of TikTok — the suspension functioned as a warning to moderate future content.

AZ Free News has relied on Libs of TikTok and even TikTok itself for our reporting. In October, we discovered that the teacher nominated by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for a national youth leadership award was pushing the vast majority of popular left-wing political ideologies in her elementary school classroom. Libs of TikTok helped notify Arizonans and the world of the three female students at Arizona State University (ASU) who harassed two fellow students for being white males with perceived conservative attire in their multicultural center.

Most recently, Libs of Tik Tok revealed an American government class at ASU telling students that state efforts to require voter ID, get rid of permanent early voting lists, restrict early voting, remove mail-in voting, and close primaries were forms of voter suppression.

Although Libs of TikTok was banned from Twitter, versions of the account exist elsewhere: Instagram, Rumble, GETTR, YouTube, and Gab.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.