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Idaho education officials plot to hide racist ‘social emotional learning’ from parents

Idaho education officials plot to hide racist ‘social emotional learning’ from parents

Wayne Hoffman
October 20, 2021

It’s not a tax increase. It’s a “revenue enhancement.”

It’s not massive new government spending. It’s an “investment.” 

It’s not critical race theory. It’s “culturally responsive teaching.” 

This politician is not a liberal. He’s a “common-sense conservative.” 

Folks in government have a horrible habit of conjuring up all sorts of euphemisms to describe the things they know you won’t like. 

The latest bit of word sorcery comes from an Idaho state agency that has some expertise on political spin: the Department of Education, which is now trying to hide a vehicle for critical race theory from the public. 

During Tom Luna’s turn as state school superintendent, he and lawmakers rebranded the much-vilified Common Core education standards as “Idaho Core” and then proceeded to tell the public that it had nothing to do with Common Core except, well, everything. 

Now comes Sherri Ybarra, Luna’s successor, who has practically turned the department into a propaganda factory that can lipstick any pig and make a failing school sound like the latest Jeopardy! champion. Half the kids are failing? No problem! That means half the kids are passing! Yay for student achievement! 

The leftist blog Idaho Education News reported that Ybarra’s Department of Education is now distancing itself from the words “social emotional learning.” The reasoning has everything to do with the fact that social emotional learning is the vehicle through which social justice indoctrination concepts like critical race theory have quietly made their way into our classrooms. 

But rather than openly admit to their coverup, the department has settled on two excuses for never saying the words “social” and “emotional” and “learning” together in a sentence. 

Department spokeswoman Kris Rodine was quoted as saying that there’s nothing wrong with social-emotional learning; it’s just been “co-opted to become a point of controversy, and interpreted to mean something we do not advocate.” Rodine went on to tell me that what the department really wants is to help “detect when kids need help and connect the family with needed support and assistance as their child deals with negative emotions, learns to avoid and resolve conflict, and copes with adversity.”

On the other hand, Eric Studebaker, the DOE’s director for student safety and engagement, said the department is shying away from controversial words because polling by the Fordham Institute found that parents’ hatred of such terminology is off the charts. And so state officials are trying to figure out how to keep doing what they’re doing without admitting to it and facing the wrath of parents. 

Since the dawn of time, schooling has been about passing on knowledge and information to the next generation. Today, schools have shifted to focus on behaviors and emotions, tying everything and anything back to mental health. 

For example, if your kindergartener is having trouble sitting still in his seat and is acting out, it might not be because he’s a squirmy little boy. And Lord knows you wouldn’t want a squirmy little boy to end up a dysfunctional teenager who opts to shoot up a school. And that’s how social emotional learning was sold to legislators a couple of years ago when Ybarra asked for funds to train teachers in it. 

Yet there’s very clear evidence, as IFF’s Anna Miller uncovered, that social emotional learning is requiring teachers to view students according to their race and level of oppression, and that’s the dirty little secret about social emotional learning that has caused the department to act, to engage in a rebranding effort. It’s sort of like how Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, in order to downplay the “fried” part some years ago.  

Today, Ybarra’s education department is trying to downplay the connection to critical race theory, even though social emotional learning is still pretty bad. It has no place in Idaho’s schools, or any schools for that matter. That’s even more apparent now that the department is working to bury it in euphemisms in order to hide its existence from parents. 

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