If you thought Common Core State Standards were bad, look out! Here come the new social-emotional standards to complement Common Core—because nothing says children have feelings more than benchmarks!
Today’s Common Core State Standards are aligned to high-stakes testing that closes schools and pushes good teachers out.
Of course, many parents have not been happy with Common Core—so much so that it has been likened politically to a “third rail” topic with the Democrats. The Republicans seem to have dropped it from their platform as well. So don’t strain your ears listening for those words on the campaign trail.
But according to Education Week, there is an effort underway to produce standards to create caring, nurturing children. The Every Student Succeeds Act includes the push for such standards in their reference to the “whole child” and as an “additional indicator” to accountability.
Many so-called education experts, who believe in Common Core, woke up to the fact that the standards didn’t factor in the social-emotional needs of children. So, voila! Now, children will have to act a certain way to reach behavioral standards.
But how do you standardize emotions? And haven’t good teachers always worked to understand and help children with their feelings and conduct? Must these now be measured–and mandated?
It is also worrisome to hear statements in regard to states creating these new social-emotional standards, like that of Roger Weissberg who says in the Ed. Week article that creating such standards will tell them “how to align from the statehouse to the classroom.” Weissberg is the chief “knowledge officer” for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the nonprofit group considering the social-emotional standards.
This alliance sports a lot of individuals with clout when it comes to public schooling.
Having state standards helps inform districts, central offices, and boards of education what might be prioritized. They can provide more guidance and help inform schools.
Inform schools about what? They don’t know the children. They don’t work with them.
In cash-strapped school districts where they are laying off teachers, how much money will go into the new materials, and the endless hours of so-called professional development? I read where show-in-tell was being suggested as a good thing to promote listening. What a revelation! I bet you never heard that one before.
And, the use of technology is already being touted as having the power to “engage the disengaged,” and that there will be an “emerging marketplace,” among other things. (See, Social-Emotional Learning Would Benefit From Tech Innovations).
Here is a report New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology, prepared in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group.
The standards will be linked, by the way, to Response to Intervention which is controversial by itself and thought by some to keep students from special education services.
So, why does the school district, or the state for that matter, have to become involved with a child’s social-emotional behavior or development?
And while the new standards are supposed to be “developmentally sensitive,” what happens when a child reacts to a tough period in their life—a divorce, or death in their family? If they act out or display behavior different from the chosen standards, will that behavior be recorded and listed in a database that follows the student into adulthood?
Watch for the surveys. There will be surveys aplenty asking students questions about their behavior.
Determining standards means that someone is deciding what is right and wrong behavior—similar to character education, which may discuss appropriate behavior, but doesn’t write it in stone.
Tennessee is going to be one of the states to work on social-emotional standards. According to the Chalkbeat:
That means setting benchmarks for what students should know or be able to do in each grade when it comes to skills such as decision-making, self-awareness, social awareness, self-control, and establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.
If you live in Tennessee, you know how much trouble they have had with online testing this past year. So why are they taking on a new project?
I am highly suspect of trying to align behavior to standards. This becomes even more alarming when you consider some of the rigid, “no-excuses” charters, which disregard normal developmental behavior, and demand that children shape-up! Many believe such programs are tantamount to child abuse.
Where are the boards and the so-called experts in calling out those schools?
Such standards also complement the unfortunate fascination this country has developed with pushing a child to have a certain “growth mindset,” like insisting children have “grit” to overcome their difficulties.
No good can come from such over-the-top micromanaging of children.
Instead of funding and wasting time on the creation of social-emotional standards, why not look at what could really help children?
Instead of wasting money on all the manuals and workbooks—online programs too—why not fund what we all know is needed in our public schools?
Here’s my list:
- End high-stakes testing or leave testing up to the teachers and the school.
- Lower class sizes, especially in K-3rd grade.
- End class retention.
- Support the critical role of community social workers.
- End “no excuses” schools.
- Create a safe, positive, and joyful school climate.
- Bring back the arts for ALL children.
- Make it a state law that all schools provide recess.
- Bring back a whole curriculum with a variety of subjects to capture a child’s interest.
- Create after school activities that bring families together with their children.
- Bring back vocational and career-technical classes.
- Include classes like home economics where children and teens learn practical skills.
- Provide schools with more school counselors and nurses.
- Require all teachers to take college coursework in child and teen psychology.
- Provide special classes (as temporary as possible) for students who act out or who have emotional difficulties.
A lot of what has been done to public schools, in the name of privatization, has been unkind to children. Now, in addition, there is a misguided attempt to form children into what the education reformers think is the perfectly behaved child.
But teachers can work on social skills, along with parents, without standardizing them. Also, if people are so weary of Common Core, why add these new standards? Isn’t it time to put Common Core to rest?
References you might not be able to access through this post.
Blad, Evie. “Social Emotional Learning: States Collaborate to Craft Standards, Policies.” Education Week. August 1, 2016.
Benjamin, Harold. “Social-Emotional Learning Would Benefit From Tech Innovations, Repport Says.” Education Week. March, 2016.
Or, the older one. HERE.