October 21, 2021 – West Bend, WI – Dear Editor: Residents of the West Bend School District (WBSD) should plan on attending the upcoming school board meetings on Oct. 25, Nov. 8, and Nov. 22, at 5:30 pm, at the high schools’ auditorium. The school board is expected to discuss and decide whether the leftist ideology of “social emotional learning” will be taught to students.
Social emotional learning, also known as SEL, has been quietly infiltrating our country’s classrooms for years. When Governor Evers was Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, grants from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Office of School Safety funded thousands of dollars to school districts. WBSD received $257,000 from this grant and used $45,000 to purchase SEL programming that included preschool, elementary, and middle school lessons called Second Step and related teacher training.
What is SEL? Proponents, like the district’s administration, emphasize that the lessons teach students better social skills, encourage empathy, and manage emotions. However, critics say SEL is a framework for teaching children to recognize social injustice, inequity, and oppression and to accept the moral relativism of the progressive culture. Through SEL, students are groomed to become social change activists in their communities. Subjective beliefs, experiences, and identities are emphasized. Students are asked to think of themselves as members of racial, gender, cultural, and sexual groups. In SEL, schools take over a large part of the family’s traditional responsibility for the character development of children.
This year, as more West Bend residents and parents became educated about the liberal bias of SEL, they began to pressure the district and board members to re-evaluate the use of SEL curriculum. At the Sept. 27, 2021 board meeting, the board voted to place Second Step on “pause.” Teachers were not to present any Second Step lessons until the board resolved the issue.
At a later curriculum committee meeting, about 45 problematic lessons were examined. Some lessons involved LGBTQ issues, including a video in which a boy announced that he was gay. “Identity maps” in other lessons asked students to list groups, values, and interests as part of their identity. In another lesson’s video, a student said that he “sucks at soccer.” Family situations were often depicted negatively in the lessons. The curriculum committee is planning to remove and revise some activities or whole lessons and will re-visit the 7th and 8th grade lessons at its next meeting.
Instead of re-writing the lessons, I ask that the school board eliminate the middle school version of Second Step, as the Germantown School Board did earlier this fall. The West Bend district should be concentrating on basic fundamentals like literacy and math competency, not social emotional lessons, until test scores dramatically improve.
The school board is supposed to represent the community. By law the board hires the Superintendent, who in turn is to carry out policies passed by the board. It appears the administration wants to continue down the path of liberal ideology by keeping SEL. I hope the WBSD school board has the courage to reject the progressive Second Step curriculum.
Call or email the WBSD district and board members. Tell them that social emotional learning has no place in this conservative, family-oriented community.
West Bend, WI
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