by James C. Sherlock
The Virginia Department of Education has posted — sort of — for citizen comment its draft Social Emotional Learning (SEL) standards. (Please note: the link to the VDOE citizen comment page has been corrected.)
These draft standards represent an overt attempt to turn school children into social justice warriors of the Democratic left. There is no rational defense to counter that observation — the document is awash in evidence.
It takes considerable curiosity and some experience with the system to find the Draft Standards, the comment page and the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) page for this particular action. It turns out that there is good reason for the hide and seek.
VDOE wants no one outside the school system to read it much less comment on it.
The over-the-top partisan content will infuriate parents with traditional views. Clearly VDOE doesn’t care. Leadership surely wants to get this put to bed before hearing from them.
The NOIRA page indicates the Governor has already approved the draft, so we have to assume that the Superintendent of Public Instruction has read this one, unlike the Math Path draft.
I share with you the comment I just posted:
The draft SEL standards document offers to present to schoolchildren an overtly partisan view of how society ought to be.
I went through the document and found words like bias used without definition, deep emphasis on groups, group identities, and intersectionality; collective goals vs. individual goals; global citizen, vs. American citizen — you get the idea. The word individual appears in those pages exactly once — as a modifier to the word “groups.”
The word “ethics” does not appear in 23 pages. Neither do “religion,” “religious” or “moral.” The word “family” appears only in the preface. The word “parent” only in Background.
Two of my favorite standards:
“SoA2: 7-8a, I can recognize and describe unfairness and injustice in many forms including attitudes, speech, behaviors, policies, practices, and laws.
SoA2: 7-8b, I can explain the difference between conscious bias and unconscious (implicit) bias.”
Unfair and unjust speech? These are government schools covered by the First Amendment. Be careful. How are teachers to determine what is unfair and unjust? Is there a book?
Conscious and unconscious bias? Who defines what constitutes bias and who teaches the difference between conscious and unconscious bias to these 7th and 8th graders?
Injustice in laws? Who gets to determine for the children which laws are unjust? Again, is there a book?
“ SoA1: 11-12a, I can relate to and build connections with other people by showing them empathy, compassion, and understanding by highlighting and honoring differing perspectives, backgrounds, cultures or social groups.”
Are all perspectives to be valued? Certainly not. The Nazis had perspectives. So did Castro and Stalin. Who determines which values should be honored? Whose rejected? Once again, is there a book?
We could continue this discussion, but you are dangerously off base this approach and begging for political trouble. I suspect you will get it.
The comment page indicates that the comments “Opened on 4/12/2021 and close at 11:59pm on 5/12/2021.” It also shows that my two posted today are the only comments — from a “group” of more than 8 million citizens. That would seem to indicate that I am either the only one or one of the few outside the rarefied air of VDOE that has read it.
I would like to think that VDOE would notice that nobody in the Commonwealth had commented in the first 18 days the document was online and take measures to get more input. I apparently am wrong. You would only do that if you actually wanted it read and commented upon.”
I have highlighted some of the interesting passages in the Draft Standards. Readers can confirm what is not there with the word search/find feature of your document app.
I suggest readers comment and get your friends to do so as well.