The U.S. Department of Education (USED) longs to plumb the psyches of our children (as its own reports reveal – see here and here), and it enjoys the eager complicity of state education establishments. As reported by Education Week, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recently announced that eight states will “work collaboratively to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools.” These states are jumping on a bandwagon that threatens to roll over innocent children and their privacy.
CASEL is the big gorilla in the zoo of social-emotional learning, or SEL. Having proved so adept at (or perhaps having given up on) teaching students English, math, science, and history, state progressive-education establishments are joining CASEL to explore more esoteric pursuits. Better to diminish academic content knowledge and push SEL: “self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.”
The average parent might object, “Wait, that’s what my child learns from me and from Sunday school.” But CASEL & Co. believe the government should take over in case the parents and church don’t do it right — perhaps teaching the wrong attitudes and mindsets.
Suppose the government decides a child will be a more acceptable student, citizen, and worker bee if he learns to acquiesce to the “consensus” of the group, regardless of his own moral standards, or if she learns to accept that all commands of the government must be obeyed. The student may fulfill the standard by developing the correct attitudes, but under whose authority does the government presume to instill attitudes that may conflict with parents’ desires?
Jane Robbins is an attorney and senior fellow with the American Principles Project.