In essence, elements of CRT are like a cancer, viciously attacking one area of the body and swiftly moving to the next until the damage is irreversible. Only in this case, the body is the educational establishment and our children are the organs begin attacked. The vehicle for the cancer is any number of acronyms put forth by the experts who use them as shapeshifters to evade parental scrutiny. It is far easier to let the cancer spread if parents do not know what it is they are looking to stop.
One such vehicle of CRT that has been receiving increased attention during the past year is Social Emotional Learning or SEL, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts across the country have purchased programs and implemented SEL with COVID relief funds to mitigate the negative impact of lockdowns and isolation on children’s mental health. At least that is what they say. Upon closer inspection, discerning parents have learned that what at first appears to be a neatly wrapped package of care and concern may, in fact, be CRT in disguise.
In 2020, the Virginia Department of Education established a team of individuals to work with the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to develop a set of SEL standards for K-12 students. The standards were established to support students academically, socially, and emotionally as well as create more equitable learning environments. What VDOE failed to highlight in their 21-page guidance standards document is the fact that in 2020 CASEL updated their framework to shift the focus of SEL to develop children through a socio-political lens. This is known as transformative SEL and is the basis upon which all SEL is now taught.
Unsuspecting parents are not aware that the pillars of SEL (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making), while all sounding like character education skills one would want their child to possess, are being taught using elements of CRT. For example, social awareness standards SoA2: 3-4a, “I can understand that people may face different barriers based on their identity and groups in society and that this is not fair” and SoA2: 9-10a, “I can recognize that all people (including myself) have certain advantages and disadvantages in society based on who they are and where they were born,” essentially ask children to identify individuals as victims or oppressors based on their identity. These are elements of CRT. They violate Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as they suggest that one race is inherently inferior or superior to another. That cannot be good for any child’s social-emotional well-being.
The Second Step Social Emotional Learning program, governed by Committee for Children and partnered with Panorama, includes resources from Learning for Justice pertaining to race-based lessons, police brutality, Black Lives Matter and gender identity. In fact, Second Step encourages teachers to use the Learning for Justice curriculum alignment in tandem with the Second Step SEL lessons. The Second Step program is used by thousands of school districts nationwide and has reached millions of children in the classroom.
Perhaps the most concerning part of all, besides the fact that precious academic time is being wasted on turning children into racist, political activists, is the trouble that school districts are putting parents through when they question the content being taught or raise concerns about what their children are learning. They are told that the only way they may view materials is to visit the school in-person and sit side-by-side with an administrator who is not authorized to relinquish control of the dashboard. Parents cannot even navigate the lessons on their own. Furthermore, why would a school system require parents to sign a type of nondisclosure agreement as required by Second Step to view the material being taught to their children? If teaching children about oppression and victimization is so wonderful, then why go to such lengths to conceal it?