VDOE’s Plan to Impose Social Reconstructionist Dogma on School Children

OK, kids, raise your hand if you can spell  i-n-d-o-c-t-r-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.

by James C. Sherlock

The 2020 General Assembly required the Virginia Department of Education to develop and publish standards for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that start in Kindergarten and go through 12th grade.

VDOE has done so, disregarding entirely hundreds of comments on Virginia Town Hall on the draft of those standards that had a 10-to-one negative-to-positive ratio.

Town Hall in theory allows citizens to influence regulations. VDOE changed not one word from the draft.

Good news:  Virginia school divisions are not required to adopt the standards — yet. Bad news: Some will.

Some goals are good ones.  

But some are not. This report pursues the overt and unapologetic thread of SEL that is designed to sideline parents and to train their children to be social justice warriors on the model of the progressive left. 

The SEL approach is called in the literature “social reconstructionism.” Social reconstructionists believe schools should equip students to transform society. It is the educational goal of radical progressives.

Some parents will find that appropriate. Most will not. None were asked.

Parents consciously ignored

The Code of Virginia uses the terms “parents” and “parental rights” in 416 different statutes. No such terms or their underlying concepts found their way into these standards. Neither “parent(s),” “parental rights,” nor “family” is used even once in the Background, Introduction or the text of the 21-page document.

With the evidence below no one will be able to deny in good faith:

  1. that the conversion of children into progressives is a goal of SEL in Virginia schools, or
  2. that the core values, views, roles, rights and obligations of parents in such matters are consciously ignored.  

The progressive social warrior thread of SEL. This thread focuses on training kids to view themselves

  • primarily as members of “groups,” not a family;
  • as “global citizens,” not Americans;
  • as fighters against “unfairness,” “injustice,” “social problems,” and “conscious and unconscious bias” that will be defined for them by teachers trained in ed schools on the meanings of those words.   

You will note that the authors, directing that children learn to “recognize and describe unfairness and injustice in … laws” in the 7th grade, allow them to wait until 9th grade to learn the importance of “intersectionality.

As you read this standards thread, try to figure out what the lesson plans will look like.

Grade Band 1-2 .

SeA2: 1-2d, I can develop an awareness of multiple groups in society.

Grade Band 3-4

SeA2: 3-4d, I can describe the multiple groups in society that help create my identity.

SoA2: 3-4a, I can understand that people may face different barriers based on their identity and groups in society and that this is not fair.

DeM2: 3-4a, I can develop an awareness of and comfort with my membership in multiple groups in society.

Grade Band 5-6

SeA2: 5-6d, (a repeat – two years is apparently not enough) I can develop an awareness of and comfort with my membership in multiple groups in society

SoA2: 5-6a, I can identify when people are treated unfairly.

SoA2: 5-6b, I can explain how stereotypes can create bias.

ReS1: 5-6d, I can demonstrate how I will navigate situations when I might feel pressured to go along with injustice.

DeM1: 5-6b, I can show curiosity about a social problem by asking questions and gathering evidence to identify potential solutions.

DeM2: 5-6a, I can describe my beliefs, values, and the multiple groups in society that help create my identity and inform my decision making process.

Grade Band 7-8

SeA2: 7-8d, I can comfortably talk about myself and positively describe my various group identities.

SoA2: 7-8a, I can recognize and describe unfairness and injustice in many forms including attitudes, speech, behaviors, policies, practices, and laws. (personal note – the teacher will pick which speech, laws, etc. are “unjust”)

SoA2: 7-8b, I can explain the difference between conscious bias and unconscious bias.

ReS1: 7-8d, I can identify causes that matter to me and how I can advocate or take action for change.

DeM2: 7-8a, I can evaluate how my membership in multiple groups combine to make me who I am and that none of my individual groups on their own fully defines me.

Grade Band 9-10

SoA2: 9-10a, I can recognize that all people (including myself) have certain advantages and disadvantages in society based on who they are and where they were born.

SoA2: 9-10b, I can recognize that my conscious and unconscious biases affect my interactions with others.

ReS1: 9-10d, I can discuss how to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and discrimination, even when it is not popular or easy or when no one else does.

DeM2: 9-10a, I can understand that all my group identities and the intersection of those identities create unique aspects of who I am and influence my decisions.

Grade Band 11-12

SoA2: 11-12a, I can recognize, describe and distinguish inequity and injustice at different levels of society.

SoA2: 11-12b, I can identify and work to address my own conscious and unconscious biases.

ReS1: 11-12d, I can make ethical decisions about when and how to take a stand against bias and injustice in my everyday life or community and will do so despite negative peer or group pressure.

DeM2: 11-12a, I can evaluate my post-secondary goals based on my own personal identity, ethical standards, and as a global citizen.

Blending race, SEL and academics in K-12 education. If you don’t think this is about race, you will be persuaded otherwise by going to VDOE’s SEL web page and browsing the “resources” offered.

Among them:

Pursuing Social and Emotional Development Through a Racial Equity Lens: A Call to Action – Aspen Institute

“Both equity and social, emotional, and academic development are currently receiving much-needed attention, but neither can fully succeed without recognizing strengths and addressing gaps in these complementary priorities.”

“Rather than being pursued as two separate bodies of work, the field needs to identify ways in which equity and social, emotional, and academic development can be mutually reinforcing. To accomplish this requires examining issues of race directly; this can be difficult and uncomfortable, but we cannot avoid race and let the challenges go unacknowledged and, therefore, inadequately addressed.”

Bottom line. Thus is social reconstructionist dogma rendered by the government of Virginia as “standards” in which our children are to be trained in school starting at the age of five.

My friends on the left are welcome to defend it, but they cannot in good conscience deny it.