National organizations, equity consultants and public school districts are using mental health initiatives to push what critics decry as the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT), including “social and emotional learning screeners,” “anti-racism practices” and “equity initiatives,” according to a report from Parents Defending Education (PDE).
Schools across the U.S. are observing “National School Counseling Week 2022,” from Feb. 7 to Feb. 12, according to a report from PDE.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
- National organizations, equity consultants and public school districts are using mental health initiatives to push what critics decry as the tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT), including “social and emotional learning screeners,” “anti-racism practices” and “equity initiatives,” according to a report from Parents Defending Education (PDE).
- Schools across the U.S. are observing “National School Counseling Week 2022,” from Feb. 7 to Feb. 12, according to a report from PDE.
- For example, the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) features a page on its website promoting “National School Counseling Week 2022,” which includes a webinar on “Anti-Racism at School.” The website also has a page titled, “Anti-Racism Resources,” which promotes the ASCA National Model on social justice and an “Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi.”
“We all care about the wellbeing of children,” PDE vice president of Investigations Asra Nomani said in a statement. “Unfortunately, through activities like ‘National School Counseling Week 2022,’ a network of consultants, companies, activists and education officials, including school counselors, psychologists and nurses, are viewing schools as the ‘de facto mental health provider in communities,’ as one contract with Panorama Education says.”
For example, the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) features a page on its website promoting “National School Counseling Week 2022,” which includes a webinar on “Anti-Racism at School.” The website also has a page titled, “Anti-Racism Resources,” which promotes the ASCA National Model on social justice and an “Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi.”
The ASCA also adheres to “The School Counselor and Anti-Racist Practices” that claims racism exists throughout all American institutions and instructs counselors to “promote equity for all,” “engage in anti-racist actions” and “dismantle systems of oppression.”
Other organizations and school districts promote policies that prevent or discourage teachers and counselors from communicating with parents about their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The National Association of School Nurses said that “barring an explicit legal obligation, school nurses should respect confidentiality and not disclose a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others, including parents or guardians, without permission from the student,” in its position statement on LGBTQ Students.
At Simi Valley Unified School District, a page on the district website titled LGBTQ resources links to the “Diversity Collective” which provides resources to children as part of a program called “Little Unicorns,” described as a resource “for young LGBTQ+, Questioning, and Allies, ages 9-12.”
School districts in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin have supported and implemented social emotional learning initiatives in their schools, according to the PDE report.
Many districts follow the standards laid out by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which advertises itself as a “trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning,” known as “SEL,” which has been criticized as a tenet of CRT. CASEL published a video in 2021 titled “SEL As a Lever for Equity and Social Justice.”
In September 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) signed a new agreement to pay $2,445,300 to Panorama Education, a company c0-founded by Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, Xan Tanner. The company plans to collect confidential data by conducting a “social and emotional learning screener” on “all” 180,000 or more FCPS students, according to PDE’s report. The contract marked a $599,640 increase from the $1,845,660 contract first signed in June 2021.
The district has since deleted the “SEL Screener” from its website, but a Request for Proposal related to the matter says “schools operate as the de facto mental health provider in communities throughout the U.S.”
In January 2021, the Webster Groves School District in Missouri published a policy titled, “Moving Towards Equity,” which aimed to “disrupt traditional beliefs, systems, structures, and practices” by having high school counselors “try to schedule students of color together in advanced track classes to create student support groups.”
Many schools faced challenges in their attempts to establish so-called affinity groups, which often segregate students based on race. PDE challenged New York City Public Schools after one of its schools, Lower Manhattan Community School, planned to divide students into affinity groups based on skin color to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community,” according to an email sent to parents.
The group also filed a complaint against Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) in Massachusetts “alleging that the district has systemically and repeatedly violated students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Massachusetts Students’ Freedom of Expression Law through the use of segregated ‘affinity groups.’” WPS settled with PDE and agreed to end its race-based “affinity groups.”
In Seattle, Pathfinder Elementary School announced a “Lunchtime Community Building Groups for BIPOC & Multiracial Scholars, K-8,” in a November 2021 school newsletter. The school said it had hired Jamelia Alnajjar “a certificated School Psychologist/School Counselor to create and facilitate ‘Lunchtime Community Building Groups’ for BIPOC/Multiracial Scholars, K-8,” which PDE said is comparable to “affinity groups.”
“They [educators] are increasingly prioritizing their activist agenda over the actual care of the majority of children,” Nomani said. “Also, at the expense of academics, they are hijacking classroom time for sexuality, gender and ‘anti-racism’ indoctrination and activism, often through consulting contracts for ‘Gender Unicorn’ programs, ‘social and emotional learning screeners,’ ‘anti-racism practices,’ ‘equity initiatives’ and even political topics like ‘Black Lives Matter at School.’”
“In some cases, addressing behavioral issues has become the entry point for controversial ‘restorative justice’ programs that too often leave victims vulnerable and perpetrators free from accountability, in the name of ‘equity,’” she said. “With students today suffering significant learning loss and serious brain health issues, we need to ditch the activism and focus on academics and the overall wellbeing of students.”
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