Updated: Jul 19, 2022
In recent years, some states have taken action against the teaching of SEL in their schools. The concern is that it might be used to influence student behavior in a way that is serving some political objectives. Critical Race Theory and sex education focusing on LGBTQ+ content are the two main points of contention.
There is a wide rumor that Florida has banned SEL. While the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) is reviewing and rejecting textbooks due to SEL principles incorporated into math, history, and science instructions, SEL is not banned in Florida, at least not yet.
However, in 2021 DeSantis banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory.
On March 25 of this year, DeSantis approved bill HB1467, requiring transparency from school districts in the selection of instructional materials. - The Palm Beach Post
Florida Department of Education under the leadership of Governor DeSantis has found 54 math books “impermissible” because some material incorporated into math advocates calculating racism. The graphics below were provided by the FLDOE demonstrating the content found inappropriate in the teaching of math.
THE FORMULA TO TEACH STUDENTS TO CALCULATE RACISM USING MATH
In the examples demonstrated in the images herein, formulas were to be taught to students to calculate racism among age groups and political affiliations. Then the lesson states that if the formula is done according to the instruction it will show a high level of racism by those identifying as Conservative leaning compared to a lower level by Liberals. Incorporating these types of formulas in math education is a direct violation of FL Bill HB1467.
Another example of what was deemed as “problematic” content by the Florida Department of Education is how social awareness is used in an elementary math book. In this particular lesson, the first two objectives are math related, such as identifying numbers and recognizing patterns. However, objective number 3 is described as “Students build proficiency with social awareness as they practice empathizing with classmates”. It is the last objective that the FLDOE deemed inappropriate in the teaching of math. While teaching kids to empathize is an important part of learning about inclusion and compassion, the FLDOE questions how this example fits in with the teaching of math.
IMPORTANCE OF SEL
Social Emotional Learning was founded in the early 1990s by a group of educators and child advocates to provide emotional support to students. It focused on two elementary schools that were low-achieving, had the worst attendance, and had the lowest academic achievement in their city. These schools were poor, and predominately African American, in New Haven, Connecticut. The results were astounding. The academic performance at the two schools after implementing the program exceeded the national average, and truancy and behavior problems declined. This launched the SEL movement.
The five competencies of SEL defined by “The CASEL 5” are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
In today’s society, Social Emotional Learning is needed more than ever. With the enormous increase in anxiety, depression, bullying, and suicidal thoughts among students particularly in the past two decades, the school system is overwhelmed with mental health issues in both the student population and among educators.
School shootings, bullying, and behavior issues are on an alarming rise. Statistics show that this is mainly due to social media. They also show that the pandemic lockdowns have caused serious harm to our kids’ ability to learn proper social interaction. They were isolated from classrooms and friends for an entire school year during a stage of life when they would normally learn skills necessary to interact with others. SEL is essential to promote mental health and reduce violent incidents in and around schools with often devastating consequences to students, teachers, and families.
However, in recent years there have been efforts by states such as Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Georgia, and Oklahoma to ban SEL altogether. The consequences to the mental health of students would be devastating. Setting back education to the times when children were not being affected by the influence of social media and smartphones is not the answer. The answer lies in finding balance in providing high-quality education free of political objectives while also addressing the widespread mental health issues in our schools with the help of Social Emotional Learning.
While no state has banned Social Emotional Learning yet, there is a lot of controversy over how it is used in schools.
THE SHIFT IN SEL
The leading authority on SEL is the organization Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). In 2019 CASEL developed the concept of Transformative Social Emotional Learning (TSEL) and incorporated it into its principles.
The CASEL website describes this new updated method of SEL as "critically examine root causes of inequity, and to develop collaborative solutions that lead to personal, community, and societal well-being." With the adaptation of this new concept, their teaching of SEL is no longer thought of as just a helpful tool for all students to navigate the difficulties of maturing through the original principle of the “The CASEL 5”.
“Transformative learning is sometimes called transformation learning, and focuses on the idea that learners can adjust their thinking based on new information.” - Western Governors University Austin, TX - Blog
TSEL is now aiming to introduce causes of inequity by adjusting how students think “based on new information”. This necessitates it to venture into history, math, and science. Many view this as a reference to the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT). And therein lies the problem and the clash with certain state laws and guidelines on education.
It is important that those who are looking to ban SEL or determining textbook content keep in mind the true purpose of Social Emotional Learning in our schools. It is also important to note that those attempting the use of SEL to promote various social agendas will hurt the effort of creating a safe and productive learning environment for students everywhere.
When the Florida Governor’s Office was asked about the administration’s position on Social Emotional Learning, education department spokesperson Palelis cited legislation requiring added training on youth mental health issues and more money for mental health assistance in schools. She also stated that “Florida has invested and will continue to invest in school safety and mental health initiatives for students as the health, safety, and welfare of Florida’s 2.9 million students is the utmost priority.” Palelis did not address Social Emotional Learning directly.
Social Emotional Learning is a much-needed program to help schools function without behavior issues, school fights, bullying, and mental health issues. SEL must not be canceled. States and student advocacy groups need to work together to keep the original intent and effectiveness of this program in place.
Rock My Campus is a highly effective provider of Social Emotional Learning which embraces the original principles of The CASEL 5 SEL program. RMC focuses on the process through which students learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors.
About the Author:
Jonathan George left his teaching career and then spent over 20 years developing personal brands for some of the biggest young superstars in Hollywood. His clients have over 150 million online followers. After seeing a mental health crisis caused by social media, he obtained a Master's Practitioner's License in Social Emotional Intelligence and founded Rock My Campus. Returning back to schools, he teamed up with 23-year education veteran and emotional behavior expert, Shylla Webb and made it their mission to combat the mental health pandemic as well as heal burnout in educators by providing solutions through preventative Social Emotional Learning.
Read more www.RockMyCampus.com
Jonathan George and Shylla Webb are available for interviews: