Letter to the Editor | West Bend School Board To Re-Evaluate SEL Education Program


October 21, 2021 – West Bend, WI – Dear Editor: Residents of the West Bend School District (WBSD) should plan to attend upcoming school board meetings on October 25, November 8 and November 22 at 5:30 p.m. pm, in the high school auditorium. The school board should discuss and decide whether the leftist ideology of “socio-emotional learning” will be taught to students.

Socio-emotional learning, also known as SEL, has quietly infiltrated our country’s classrooms for years. When Governor Evers was superintendent of the Department of Education, grants from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of School Safety funded thousands of dollars to school districts. WBSD received $ 257,000 from this grant and used $ 45,000 to purchase a SEL program that included preschool, elementary and intermediate courses called Second Step and related training for teachers.

What is SEL? Supporters, like the district administration, point out that classes teach students better social skills, encourage empathy and manage emotions. However, critics say SEL is a framework for teaching children to recognize social injustice, inequity and oppression and to accept the moral relativism of progressive culture. Through SEL, students are prepared to become activists for social change in their communities. Beliefs, experiences and subjective identities are emphasized. Students are encouraged to see themselves as members of racial, gender, cultural and sexual groups. In SEL, schools take much of the traditional family responsibility for the character development of children.

This year, as more residents and parents of West Bend learned of SEL’s liberal bias, they began to pressure the district and board members to reassess use of the SEL curriculum. At the board meeting on September 27, 2021, the board voted to put Second Step on “pause”. Teachers were not to present any second stage lessons until the board resolved the issue.

At a subsequent meeting of the program committee, approximately 45 problematic lessons were discussed. Some lessons focused on LGBTQ issues, including a video in which a boy announced he was gay. The “identity cards” in other lessons asked students to list groups, values, and interests as part of their identity. In the video from another lesson, a student said he “sucks at football.” Family situations were often portrayed negatively in the lessons. The program committee plans to delete and revise some activities or entire lessons and will visit again on 7e and 8e write down the lessons at their next meeting.

Instead of rewriting the lessons, I am asking the school board to eliminate the intermediate version of Second Step, as the Germantown school board did earlier this fall. West Bend District should focus on basic fundamentals such as literacy and math skills, not social and emotional lessons, until test scores improve dramatically.

The school board is supposed to represent the community. By law, the board hires the superintendent, who in turn must enforce the policies adopted by the board. It seems that the administration wants to continue on the path of liberal ideology by keeping the SEL. I hope the WBSD school board will have the courage to reject the progressive Second Step program.

Call or email WBSD district and board members. Tell them that socio-emotional learning has no place in this conservative family-oriented community.

Jean Heger

West Bend, WI

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