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  • Bill Eling

“Social Emotional Learning”

Let’s discuss Social Emotional Learning. Here’s a link to the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction’s letter giving notice of his adoption of Social Emotional Learning for grades K through 12. Sounds good. It always sounds good.

“Social Emotional Learning teaches to the whole child and leads to the development of powerful learning habits that include essential skills such as emotional management, collaboration, communication and responsible decision making.”

Who’s not for that? [Note: there is a lot of interest these days in responsible decision making.] Here’s the link to the approval letter. SEL Standards adoption letter signed.pdf (

But then dig a little deeper in the letter. You might be surprised that SEL has an “equity” component. It does. SEL has 4 guiding principles: “equity, cultural responsiveness, universal design and trauma-informed practices.” Sorry, I am not seeing how these 4 guiding principles lead to “the development of powerful learning habits.”

Want more proof of what SEL really stands for in the view of OSPI? Here is a link to the OSPI’s Social and Emotional Learning webpage: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) | OSPI ( At the top of the OSPI’s SEL list are links to “equity” sites. I think we can safely infer that these sites are approved by the State Superintendent simply due to their inclusion on the OSPI’s SEL webpage.

Here’s a taste from the link to the Puget Sound Educational Service District. This PDF link is the first on the State Superintendent Social Emotional Learning list. Seems a little different than what the Superintendent described in the Approval Letter linked above. Most common people would think social emotional learning is about social emotional learning, not race.

Here’s one paragraph and it’s not from the CRT materials. It’s from the Social Emotional Learning webpage.

“We Agree: That in order to eliminate racial inequities, it is essential that race be clearly called out and institutional racism be addressed within our own organization as well as in the broader systems with which we interact.”

So, is SEL about collaboration and emotional self-control? Or is it about something else altogether? I am still missing the causal connection between “powerful learning habits” and “clearly calling out race” to kids in elementary school. But one possible conclusion is that the benign sounding Social Emotional Learning is one of the many Critical Race Theory Trojan horses being rolled into our schools.

As Walter Sobchak might say, “Am I wrong?”

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