Ybarra sternly berates ‘political stance’ around socio-emotional learning


State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra strongly rebuffed the political outcry surrounding “socio-emotional learning” on Thursday morning, saying “education is under attack” by “those who co-opted the term”.

His comments, delivered during an address at a virtual school safety symposium, came as Ybarra’s office shifted away from the term socio-emotional learning. SEL has been embroiled in a controversial debate over the alleged school indoctrination, as EdNews recently reported. His comments also came the day after the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a libertarian group, accused Ybarra’s State Department of Education of plotting to hide SEL’s “racist” teachings from parents.

But Ybarra’s office continued to champion the concept behind SEL, despite a change in internal rhetoric and external backlash.

She began her address with “an exercise” to advocate for social and emotional support for students.

She asked participants to raise their hands if:

  • They were proud that Idaho ranked fifth in the country for suicides.
  • They would like to see more students kill themselves.
  • They would like more students to drop out of school, “get addicted to drugs” or get hurt in some other way.
  • They would like to see more incidents like the shooting at Rigby Middle School in May.
  • They had heard details of the last student’s death by suicide on Wednesday night.

“No one wants those things I just mentioned. But unfortunately education is under attack right now. Some people characterize the work we’re doing to stop the things I mentioned a few moments ago, calling it Critical Race Theory. And nothing could be further from the truth. Because depression, alcohol, suicide – these things know no borders and no demographics when it comes to affecting our children.

The Freedom Foundation and members of Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s Education Task Force grouped SEL with Critical Race Theory, a comparison Ybarra repeatedly rejected Thursday.

A few school board candidates have placed opposition to SEL at the center of their campaigns ahead of the November elections, adding yet another political load to the mandate. They sought to engage voters by branding SEL “indoctrination”, while Ybarra countered that SEL is about “self-control, self-awareness, problem-solving, strong interpersonal skills and empowerment. responsible decision ”.

The Republican superintendent did not call the Freedom Foundation by name, but said “another force” was trying to portray mental health supports as “grim.”

“Those who have co-opted the term socio-emotional learning seem less concerned with the well-being of our students and more with political postures and attempts to convince Idahoans that indoctrination is rampant in Idaho schools. “she said. “I speak for myself with (with) the department and many other parents and stakeholders in Idaho who will not tolerate being humiliated or frightened by a program that keeps children from dying.”


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