Policy Advisory April 17, 2023

What you should know about Florida

The FL Dept of Ed (FLDOE) previously proscribed the inclusion of SEL in math and social studies textbooks. More recently, they released a directive asking for input on what schools are doing in SEL, suggesting that such activities might violate FL law. Following the directive, the Commissioner of Education attacked an SEL program for allegedly possibly violating FL law.  Commissioner Diaz stated in a letter to superintendents that “SEL has no place in Florida schools.” Most recently, Florida First Lady DeSantis announced that more than $21 million will be dedicated to creating and distributing a “resiliency curriculum,” including parent and teacher toolkits.

What you should know about Arizona

Arizona Superintendent Horne ran on an anti-SEL platform and is making good on that promise. He is scrubbing the state education agency’s website of SEL and whole child references. In addition, he has created a grant program for districts to abandon their SEL efforts in favor of his preferred Character Counts program. Besides that grant program, the Arizona Department of Ed is requiring all Local Education Agencies to sign an attestation when requesting to utilize funds for SEL activities. In contrast, Arizona Governor Hobbs announced a grant program seeking to remedy, among other things, COVID-19’s adverse effects on “social and emotional behavior.”

What you should know about Indiana (and ‘gotcha’ videos)

Recent “gotcha” videos attacked two Indiana districts alleging they use SEL as a trojan horse for critical race theory. A local news report featured the districts’ responses to these videos. Last month the same thing happened in Utah. We have been seeing an increase in this “undercover” tactic.  

You might wish to advise your school and district partners of these activities and encourage them to be especially mindful when discussing SEL with members of the public. In addition, you might also share sample messaging such as the following:

  • The vast majority of parents across political ideologies agree that social and emotional learning is important in schools because it helps children succeed academically, build healthy relationships, and achieve their goals. There is no real controversy about that. Don’t let those who say otherwise fool you. Social and emotional learning helps students develop skills to reflect on and communicate their own perspectives, listen to others with different viewpoints, and work together toward common ground. Social and emotional learning is based on the science of learning and development, not politics. Let’s not let politics interfere with the learning kids need to thrive.

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