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First introduced in the late 80s and early 90s, Omaha school board candidates again weigh on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

OMAHA, Nebraska — Learning to navigate one’s social and emotional lives is not a novel notion.

Schools all over Nebraska and Iowa implement a curriculum known as social and emotional learning (SEL), which was initially developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The curriculum’s primary objective is to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to comprehend and manage emotionally trying circumstances.

According to Justin Wagner, superintendent of Woodbine Community Schools, “We know that research suggests that when children feel emotionally attached, not only do they have higher attendance, but they also have better academic performance, and they get into less trouble.”

However, in Nebraska there are school board candidates who believe that social and emotional learning (SEL) goes much further than its intended goal.

Who wouldn’t want their children to grow up to be kind and understanding of others? According to Marni Hodges, who is competing for a seat on the State Board of Education, “However, over the years we have seen it be almost like a trojan horse for CRT and basically shifting the paradigm.”

The backlash against social and emotional learning (SEL) is one facet of a larger movement on the part of conservatives to purge schools of what they refer to as “woke ideology.”

Recently, some proponents of SEL have argued for what is known as “Transformative SEL,” which is the use of SEL to foster justice-oriented civic involvement by concentrating on issues of racism, class, and culture. Some candidates believe that this approach is too similar to teaching courses like CRT.

“On the surface, it appears to be all right. I don’t want my child to be prejudiced in any way, and I especially don’t want him to be homophobic or racist. Brett Elliot, a candidate for the Elkhorn Public School Board, was quoted as saying, “Everything gets packaged up very well, and like you mentioned, Marni, it’s a trojan horse.”

Furthermore, conservatives assert that in-class surveys are being utilized to radicalize pupils through the use of social and emotional learning (SEL).

A document that was published by the organization Protect Nebraska Children outlines what they describe as a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” which is where they claim that students are asked biased questions to create a culture of social justice in schools that lowers academic achievement, and PNC encourages parents to opt their students out of participating in these surveys.

“No, mastering social and emotional skills is not part of the curriculum. “Not a program; therefore, the district does not have an obligation to notify you what is included in the SEL program because it is not curriculum based,” stated Brittany Holtmeyer, a candidate for the school board in Papillion-Lavista.

Educators, on the other hand, believe that the outcomes of SEL programs speak by themselves.

According to the principle of Woodbine PK-4, Jill Ridder, “when students are going through traumatic circumstances, sometimes that is the priority that you need to help them through that tragedy before they can focus on their arithmetic, reading, or writing,”

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