A Few Misinformed Texans Confused About Education Terminology

Sep 16, 2019 by

“A Few Misinformed Texans Confused About Education Terminology”

By Donna Garner

9.16.19

Some Texans are listening to people outside our state, and their interpretations of various education policies should not be applied to what is happening in Texas.

These misinterpretations are wrongly equating the terms “Obama-era disparate, restorative justice discipline policies” with “Social Emotional Learning.” Those are two very different entities although both are very bad ideas.

OBAMA’S DANGEROUS DISPARATE, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE POLICIES

Below are links to well-written articles that explain how the Obama-era disparate, restorative justice discipline policies (e.g., PROMISE program) have put both students and educators’ lives at risk as seen at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida.

9.10.19 — “Andrew Pollack’s New Book Searches for Answers About Why His Daughter Meadow Died in Parkland” — by Meagan O’Matz — South Florida Sun Sentinelhttps://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-ne-meadow-pollack-book-published-20190910-4fluqk76qrcitj72etnbwlvq7i-story.html

7.28.19 – “U.S. Civil Rights Commission Urges Continuation of Obama-Era Student Discipline Policy” – by Dr. Susan Berry – Breitbart
https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/07/28/u-s-civil-rights-commission-urges-continuation-of-obama-era-student-discipline-policy

7.26.19 – “Report: Serious Violence on Rise in Nation’s Public Schools” – by Dr. Susan Berry – Breitbart – republished by Edviews.org — https://www.educationviews.org/report-serious-violence-on-rise-in-nations-public-schools/

7.27.12 – “O and His Proportional Discipline Based Upon Race and Ethnicity” – by Neil Munro – The Daily Caller – republished in Edviews.org —

7.18.18 – “Betsy DeVos Should Get Feds Out of School Discipline Policy, Withdraw Obama-Era Guidance” — by Jonathan Butcher – The Daily Signalhttps://tinyurl.com/y653pkgq

4.25.18 – “Like Common Core, Obama’s School Leniency Policy for Minorities Has Backfired” – by Dr. Susan Berry – Breitbarthttps://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/04/25/like-common-core-obamas-school-leniency-policy-for-minorities-has-backfired/

4.24.18 — “Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights” — by Annie Waldman — Texas Tribune — republished by EdViews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/shutdown-of-texas-schools-probe-shows-trump-administration-pullback-on-civil-rights/

1.2.18 — “DeVos Urged To Scrap Obama-Era ‘Black Lives Matter’ School Discipline Policy” — by Dr. Susan Berry – Breitbart — republished by EdViews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/devos-urged-to-scrap-obama-era-black-lives-matter-school-discipline-policy/

7.15.16 – “Inside the Mind of a Black Policeman” – by Jay Stalien – Facebook – republished by Edviews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/mind-black-policeman/

PRESIDENT TRUMP WORKING TO GET RID OF OBAMA-ERA DISPARATE, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE DISCIPLINE POLICIES

12.21.18 – “Trump Officials Cancel Obama-Era Policy on School Discipline” – by Collin Binkley — APNews.comhttps://www.apnews.com/07c8e7c5a69942699f7640890677c2d2

Pres. Trump’s creation of the Federal Commission on School Safety:  https://www.ed.gov/school-safety

Federal Commission on School Safety report released:  https://www2.ed.gov/documents/school-safety/school-safety-report.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

12.21.18 – “It’s official: DeVos Has Axed Obama Discipline Guidelines Meant To Reduce Suspensions of Students of Color” – by Francisco Vara-Orta — Chalkbeathttps://chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2018/12/21/its-official-devos-scraps-obama-discipline-rules-meant-to-reduce-suspensions-of-students-of-color/

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Some people wrongly equate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as being the same as the Obama-era disparate, restorative justice discipline policies. They are not the same, but both are terrible ideas. 

SEL is a part of the ESSA (i. e., Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced NCLB) as passed by Congress under Obama in 12.10.15. 

SEL has some extremely bad features such as trying to turn classroom teachers into pseudo-psychologists. 

Below are articles detailing why SEL is a really terrible idea and why Congress should not have forced states into SEL by making it a part of the ESSA legislation:

3.11.19 – “Study: Social and Emotional Learning, the ‘New-Age Nanny State’” – by Dr. Susan Berry – Breitbart – republished by Edviews.org

6.14.18 — “Why Teaching and Grading Social Emotional Learning Is a Very Bad Idea in Our Schools” – J. R. Wilson – Truth in American Education – republished by EdViews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/why-teaching-and-grading-social-emotional-learning-is-a-very-bad-idea/

The Wallace Foundation in Texas has been a huge proponent of SEL and has pushed this agenda into the Dallas ISD through the Wallace Foundation’s grant: 4.18.18 – EdViews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/wallace-foundation-gave-grant-of-1-5-m-to-dallas-isd-to-launch-social-emotional-learning-initiative/

7.25.17 – “Social and Emotional Learning Gets Partnership Support for a Community Movement” – The Hubhttps://thehub.dallasisd.org/2017/07/25/dallas-isd-and-big-thought-to-receive-wallace-foundation-grant-to-foster-childrens-social-and-emotional-learning/

8.8.16 – “The Latest Big Education Fad, Social-Emotional Learning, Is As Bad As It Sounds” — by Jane Robbins – Townhall.comhttp://townhall.com/columnists/janerobbins/2016/08/08/the-latest-big-education-fad-socialemotional-learning-is-as-bad-as-it-sounds-n2202205

3.17.16 – “Rewrite of NCLB (ESSA) Requires Schools To Test Non-Measurable, Social Emotional Skills” – by Valerie Strauss – The Washington Post – comments from Donna Garner – Edviews.orghttp://www.educationviews.org/rewrite-nclb-essa-requires-schools-test-non-measurable-social-emotional-skills/

GOOD NEWS – TEXAS EMPHASIZES ACADEMIC LEARNING

The good news is that Texas’ accountability system called the “A – F Report Card” has been carefully put into place to emphasize (by holding schools accountable) the importance of academic achievement.  

The elected members of the Texas State Board of Education in conjunction with the Texas Commissioner of Education and the Texas Education Agency have adopted and are implementing mostly Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) which form the foundation for academic instruction and state-mandated tests in Texas.

(Unfortunately, the Math TEKS still have some Type #2 process standards in them; but hopefully when the new Math TEKS are adopted, those process standards will be deleted.)  

11.4.13 — Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart — http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional-vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/

Links to TEKS as posted on TEA website:  https://tea.texas.gov/Academics/Curriculum_Standards/TEKS_Texas_Essential_Knowledge_and_Skills_%28TEKS%29/Texas_Essential_Knowledge_and_Skills

“A – F REPORT CARD” AND ITS EMPHASIS ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

9.13.19 — “What Progress Are Our Texas Public Schools Making?” — By Donna Garner — EdViews.orghttps://www.educationviews.org/what-progress-are-our-texas-public-schools-making/

Starting in the fall of 2021, all students in Grades 3 through 8 will be assessed in writing instead of having only students in Grades 4 and 7 assessed in writing.  This will, of course, hold teachers and students accountable to teach/utilize proficient composition skills.  The TEA has put into place a transition plan:  https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/Reading_Language_Arts_(RLA)_Assessment_Transition

The TEA has created a webpage entitled “Answers in About a Minute — A – F Accountability” —https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Audio_and_Video/Answers_in_About_a_Minute__A-F_Accountability

TEA’s “A – F Accountability Resource Page” —  https://tea.texas.gov/Student_Testing_and_Accountability/Accountability/A%E2%80%93F_Resources

TEA’S PHILOSOPHY ON SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING – SEL

Yes, the Texas Education Agency does recognize that children do need to learn to manage their social emotional learning and offers a wide variety of different resources to school counselors as well as to teachers. This is the statement on the TEA’s webpage regarding SEL:

Social and emotional skills involve the process of understanding and applying the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

Children’s emotions in school are connected to their learning and academic achievement.  There is a large and growing body of evidence as well as available programs to integrate into classrooms to teach social and emotional competence.”

SEL Resources:  https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Other_Services/Mental_Health/Building_Skills_Related_to_Managing_Emotions%2C_Establishing_and_Maintaining_Positive_Relationships%2C_and_Responsible_Decision-Making 

TEA’S PHILOSOPHY REGARDING A SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE SCHOOL CLIMATE

“A positive school climate is the product of a school’s attention to fostering safety; promoting a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and encouraging and maintaining respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community no matter the setting. 

A positive school climate is critically related to school success. It can improve attendance, achievement, and retention and even rates of graduation. School climate has many aspects. Defining a framework for understanding school climate can help educators identify key areas to focus on to create safe and supportive climates in their schools. Measuring school climate is essential.” — https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Other_Services/Mental_Health/Safe_and_Supportive_School_Climate

TEXAS LEGISLATURE PASSED HB 18 – SCHOOL SAFETY AND MENTAL HEALTH OF SCHOOL STUDENTS

The Texas Legislature passed HB 18 which goes into effect on 12.1.19:

HB 18:  Caption:  “Relating to consideration of the mental health of public school students in training requirements for certain school employees, curriculum requirements, counseling programs, educational programs, state and regional programs and services, and health care services for students and to mental health first aid program training and reporting regarding local mental health authority and school district personnel” — https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB18

The Enrolled Bill Summary OF HB 18:   https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/BillSummary.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB18

Comments from Donna Garner:  The emphasis throughout HB 18 is on the mental health of students; on positive relationships; on positive school environment; on parental consent; on positive mental health interventions; on including mental health information in health curriculum (such things as grief management, dangers of illegal drugs, recognizing substance abuse, etc.); on qualified psychologists/psychiatrists; on locating local mental health resources; on gaining mental health resources for Special Education/Sect. 504/disabled students. 

The Texas Commissioner of Education and the Texas Commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission will be working together to implement HB 18, and there are well-defined guidelines as to what is to be included in the mental health curriculum.  The social/emotional/learning (SEL) is to take place within the health education curriculum and does not appear to be mandated in other academic subject areas.

CONCLUSION

Texas public schools (including charters) still have a long way to go before the majority of students will graduate with the foundational skills and knowledge that will help them to become educated citizens, contributing members of society, and successful adults.  

However, we can be very thankful that our Governor, Lt. Governor, Texas Attorney General, Texas State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education, and Texas Legislators are making many wise decisions that demonstrate independent leadership instead of falling in line with some of the many harmful, national, education fads.    

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