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.