The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is attempting to institute “social-emotional learning” — which emphasizes the moral, ethical, and emotional development of students over academic content — into the state-wide curriculum.
According to a draft of VDOE’s new “social-emotional learning” proposal, middle and high schoolers state-wide must be able to recognize and describe a slew of social justice terms in order to graduate. For example, seventh and eighth graders must be able to “recognize and describe unfairness and injustice in many forms including attitudes, speech, behaviors, policies, practices, and laws.”
Other standards include explaining the difference between conscious and unconscious bias, understanding that “fair does not always mean that everyone gets the same thing,” and understanding that people “may face different barriers based on their identity and groups in society.”
Before graduation, students must also demonstrate an ability to “understand broader historical and social contexts’ impact on humanity” and “recognize, describe, and distinguish inequity and injustice.”
The VDOE’s “notice of intended regulatory action” page indicates that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has already signed off on the implementation of “social-emotional learning.” The standards are undergoing a town hall period wherein parents and educators can comment on the proposal.
A Virginia-based concern parents blog-PACT noted how difficult it can be to find these standards. “It takes considerable curiosity and some experience with the system to find the Draft Standards” and the comments page.
The comments page is almost entirely filled with criticism about the “social-emotional learning” proposal. “Stop with the neo marxism,” one parent claimed. “Stop trying to further divide our population,” said another. “Stop with the [social justice warrior] programming.”
One comment called the “social-emotional learning standards” “profoundly partisan.”
Proponents of “social-emotional learning” believe that K-12 institutions should shape the attitudes, mindsets, values, and behaviors of students. Opponents claim that the parents should be in charge of shaping the values and behaviors of children, while K-12 institutions should focus on teaching traditional academic content.
The VDOE claims that its push for “social-emotional learning” is part and parcel of its broader equity push. Other items on the VDOE’s equity agenda include ending advanced diplomas state-wide.
During a Zoom meeting, Virginia Education Department’s Director of Policy Leslie Sale announced a newfound effort to review Virginia’s diploma and graduation requirements.
“This is about … how and where graduation requirements can operate as a level for equity. So, first, we’re going to start with … the possibility of consolidating the standard and advanced studies diploma,” Sale said. “Hopefully, this discussion will allow us to think through how we maintain a rigorous academic foundation in a way that’s really equitably serving the needs and aspirations of all of Virginia’s learners.
Parents are growing increasingly agitated with the VDOE’s progressive politics and have created action groups designed to combat these standards. One parent organization (PACT) located in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County has partnered with 1776 Action — which boasts testimonials from Dr. Ben Carson and North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem — to combat the growing political presence in K-12 institutions.
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