Yet Another Billionaire Philanthropist To The Rescue!

T. Denny Sanford

Last week, Long Island Business News reported that yet another billionaire philanthropist will be throwing more money at what ails K-12 education, this time focusing on social-emotional learning.

Adina Genn reporting for the publication wrote:

Billionaire T. Denny Sanford visited a Rockville Centre elementary school Wednesday to announce that he is donating $100 million to promote social emotional learning in schools across the country.

The South Dakota entrepreneur and philanthropist is giving the money to the National University System, a nonprofit that focuses on education and philanthropy initiatives. Through this funding, Sanford is expanding the Sanford Harmony social emotional learning program, which enables children nationwide to embrace diversity, inclusion, empathy and critical thinking, communication, problem-solving and peer relationships.

The program is already in its fourth year at William S. Covert Elementary School, where Sanford was a special guest in Meryl Goodman’s second-grade class. There, students shared ideas about collaboration, respect and acceptance through storytelling, song and discussion.

Thanking the students, Sanford told them that they were “wonderful, wonderful kids.”

Sanford told LIBN that the morning was a “culmination of all of everyone’s efforts – not just me, but all the teachers and school district to make this work.”

Sanford based the program on a need he saw to develop strong social and emotional skills in children that they can incorporate in and outside of school as well as into adulthood.

Oh goody. Please stop. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise as we recently learned that it will be impossible to educate our kids without social-emotional learning.

As a reminder here’s a running list of concerns that we have with SEL that J.R. Wilson provided back in February. This trend is not worth throwing money it and it is just another dataless reform.

  • Social emotional learning (SEL) standards, benchmarks, learning indicators, programs, and assessments address subjective non-cognitive factors.
  • Subjective non-cognitive factors addressed in SEL programs may include attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, emotions, mindsets, metacognitive learning skills, motivation, grit, self-regulation, tenacity, perseverance, resilience, and intrapersonal resources even though programs may use different terminology.
  • The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to promote or develop social emotional standards, benchmarks, learning indicators, programs or assessments.
  • Promoting and implementing formal SEL program standards, benchmarks, learning indicators and assessments will depersonalize the informal education good teachers have always provided.
  • Teachers implementing SEL standards, benchmarks, learning indicators, programs, and assessments may end up taking on the role of mental health therapists for which they are not professionally trained. SEL programs should require the onsite supervision of adequately trained professional psychologists/psychotherapists.
  • Social and emotional learning programs take time away from academic knowledge and fundamental skills instruction.
  • SEL programs may promote and establish thoughts, values, beliefs, and attitudes not reflective of those held by parents and infringe upon parental rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
  • Informed active written parental consent should be required prior to any student participating in any social-emotional learning program or assessment through the school system.
  • Sensitive personally identifiable non-cognitive data will be collected on individuals through SEL programs.
  • The collection and use of subjective non-cognitive individual student SEL data may result in improper labeling of students. This data will follow individuals throughout their lifetime with the potential for unintended use resulting in negative consequences.
  • Concerns have been expressed that SEL programs and collected data may potentially be misused with a captive and vulnerable audience for indoctrination, social and emotional engineering, to influence compliance, and to predict future behavior.

Mr. Sanford would be better off investing his money in education methods that work instead of foisting his version of education reform onto the rest of us.

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3 thoughts on “Yet Another Billionaire Philanthropist To The Rescue!

  1. These schools will all have their hand out for a piece of the pie. They will implement ANYTHING as long as there is money attached. I want to see what schools will say no thanks. Just another globalist out to change how our children see the world of course as seen by the eyes of the globalists pushing this agenda.

  2. “Social and emotional learning programs take time away from academic knowledge and fundamental skills instruction.”
    You can always take a good idea and execute it badly, which some schools do. Having a course in SEL that takes them away from academic learning is a waste, to be sure. But the best educators use SEL as a manner of traveling and incorporate “soft” skills into the teaching “hard”/fundamental skills so that the fundamentals and work habits actually improve. Soft skills are prized by employers because they want employees who can adapt rapidly to change, receive and promptly act on constructive criticism and make everybody around them – colleagues and customers – better.

    While teaching fundamental skills, for example, the best educators teach students how to manage their time. They teach them how to become responsible to turn in work on time and be available to fellow students to help them succeed as well, as they would when participating on a sports team or musical group. They provide problem-solving competitions among small groups that teach students how to collaborate, lead and follow, check their mutual work, win and lose gracefully and de-escalate and resolve conflicts humanely when team members disagree or some fail to shoulder their individual responsibilities. The best educators guide students to succeed on individual and group projects that help students learn and then apply fundamental skills to demonstrate how they discovered or solved a problem, including those they might encounter in the community or at home. The best educators also help students discover their strengths and what they are like when at their best in order to learn faster, become better class/teammates, make friends and even select their careers.

    An example of how to combine SEL with learning fundamental skills is provided by the Fast Break accelerated learning framework for teens and young adults. Simulating a high-performance collaborative workplace, Fast Break is an immersion-type, blended classroom-computer-assisted course that rapidly improves basic skills, work habits, employability and people (SEL) skills while helping students develop a compelling vision of success in a career field in which they are interested and have aptitude. The team-taught, cross-disciplinary, project- and competency-based model employs the team-oriented “band of brothers and sisters” approach that has made many of our companies, military units, sports teams and performing arts groups the best in the world. Its motto, “Getting everybody over the bar.”

    Click on the following links for more information: – describes program from a student perspective. describes Fast Break’s team approach.

    Students will all now think and feel alike.
    Our behavior used to be shaped by parents, moral teachings and conscience. Now it will be shaped by conformity to liberal group-think.
    I was struck by the irony of liberal feel-good programs purporting to solve liberal-caused problems, i.e. the breakdown of the family, mass immigration, cultural destruction, urban dysfunction, factory schools, immorality..
    I could go on and on. They create the problem and then provide the solution.
    How sad that our country had come to this.

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