With all the blame being put on the pandemic for K-12 low achievement scores (Connecticut State Department of Education, August 25, 2023), Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs are increasingly being viewed as the answer to solving the problem. In fact, not only does SEL improve achievement, or so they say, but also chronic absenteeism and high school graduation. Poof… just like magic, SEL programs are being positioned as if they are a panacea for all school problems, and will help overall learning, school culture and even the health of our children.
Sadly, this is farthest from the truth, especially when considering the evolution of SEL and federal educational policies over a 30-year period. Most surprising, right under the noses of American families and educators, SEL has subversively revamped the overall culture and direction of learning, but with little actual proof that our students are making achievement gains because of it. The overarching program—CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)—needs to be reviewed at much deeper levels starting with its K-12 mission, programs, and funding sources as well as historical roots.
K-12 Mission, Programs & Funding
Evidenced-based SEL programs are intended to teach students skills to recognize and manage their emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, and handle challenging situations effectively. SEL approaches are meant to help students gain confidence, set goals, collaborate with others, navigate the world more effectively and succeed academically. Some programs even integrate social emotional learning with academic subjects like mathematics and literacy.
School districts throughout the United States use a variety of SEL programs. These programs may sound familiar—K-5 (Second Step, RULER, Responsive Classroom, Open Circle, Choose Love, PBIS, etc.) and 6- 12 (Restorative Practices, DESSA-Aperture System, PBIS, etc.). Most SEL school programs are paid for by federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan and Title I monies. In addition, when the Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce was enacted in 2021, SEL spending grew from $530 million (2019-20) to $765 million (2020-21)—about a 45% increase—according to Tyton Partners.
The Historical Roots of SEL
John Fetzer, a broadcast pioneer and Detroit Tigers team owner (1901-1991), founded the Fetzer Institute (1962) which, in turn, created CASEL in 1994. Fetzer, a New Age guru, was fascinated with helping to build a spiritual foundation for a loving world—thus, the birth of “social and emotional learning” for children—designed not to educate, but to transform children’s core values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions and behavior. What happened to the good old days, when education was about learning the 3R’s, history, science as well as the Golden Rule?
The SEL Competencies, under the guise of being “social” and “emotional”, instill a radical new and oftentimes contradictory “politically correct” value system: radical environmentalism, radical feminism, critical theory, social justice, equity, LGBTQ-plus, population control, socialism, hyper-racialism, class struggle and more. At least on the surface, it is seemingly just the latest educational fad, but when parental rights are being removed by teacher unions, boards of education, parent teacher associations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this is quite concerning.
Although SEL was formally instituted in the late 1990s, the real history behind it starts with Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), a Soviet psychologist who studied how to effectively brainwash children to become good communists. His contributions in laying the foundations for SEL are widely acknowledged among practitioners (History of Social Emotional Learning | Sutori) and even academia (Locating Social and Emotional Learning in Schooled Environments: A Vygotskian Perspective on Learning as Unified by Vadeboncoeur and Collie)
Many educators and parents have little understanding about the true origins of SEL, including how it's rooted in New Age spiritualism and communist brainwashing tactics. Nonetheless, CASEL financiers (Gates, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, etc.) and globalists at the World Economic Forum continue to move forward with their mission of globalizing the world’s education systems. It might sound good on the surface, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that there is a deeper globalist agenda behind SEL.
Today, SEL has become ubiquitous in schools across the nation. Although it is described as ‘the heartbeat of the classroom’ and beyond—the playground, cafeteria, hallways and home, it is clear that the SEL craze is an extreme threat to America’s youth and individual liberty.
It is not about helping children at all. SEL is being leveraged to develop justice-oriented, global citizens, and to nurture inclusive school and district communities. It is psychologically manipulative and a conditioning scheme being used by the government to effectively promote socialism. SEL values and beliefs are incompatible with individual liberty, our U.S. Constitution, the nuclear family, religious liberty, and other essential principles.
It’s time for parents and policymakers to take action and push back against SEL. Collectively, we can make a difference for our children and our future by drawing, once again, on healthy American values, including family, friends, faith and freedom. Our republic is much stronger than socialism… history tells us this.