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Unions are rewriting curriculum, and you might not like what they have to offer

The following is an excerpt from our Saturday email, which includes our musings on the latest developments impacting public employees, links to that week’s labor news, and a collection of whimsical reads for your weekend. If you’d like to receive our weekly email, you can use the sign-up form at the bottom of this page. We promise to respect your inbox, and we will never share your email address.

Have you heard of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum? It was one of the main topics of conversation earlier this year at the AFT conference.

The growth of SEL in schools might be seen as a necessary response to the rise of mental health issues among children and teens, but – unsurprisingly, and sadly – much of it has been coopted by progressive education activists who work closely with the NEA and AFT.

The unions certainly haven’t helped children with their mental health struggles this year. They were a huge force behind keeping schools closed, even when it was clear that schools could safely reopen and that the closures had a serious impact on students.

Now they are one of the forces behind the push to get SEL into every school, raising concerns among parents–especially as the contents of various SEL lessons come to light. In one curriculum, parents are listed as “roadblocks” children might face. In SEL assessments, students are asked to classify themselves based on their race, sexual orientation, and gender. There have even been concerns raised that the SEL assessments sold by Panorama, which is run by the son-in-law of Attorney General Merrick Garland, provides the company with deeply personal information about school children.

What does this mean for teachers? There are two areas of concern here–for starters, this once again puts teachers in the middle of a culture war they didn’t ask to be a part of, but that the unions seem determined to intensify. This also puts teachers in the difficult position of trying to teach an academic curriculum to kids who are likely behind because of quarantines and closures, while also trying to play the role of a psychologist.

That isn’t fair to teachers or students.

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Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.