Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat Sculpture at Geisel Library University of California San Diego

Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat Sculpture at Geisel Library University of California San Diego La Jolla California

Political influence is permeating every facet of American society: culture, laws, finance, and most alarming of all, education.

But first, a few recent noteworthy controversies.

A Georgia Gwinnett College student, Chike Uzuegbunam, won his case against the college for violating his First Amendment free-speech rights in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a near unanimous vote of 8-1. Justice Roberts was the sole dissenting vote, favoring the college's right to limit the student's speech to free speech zones via no quantifiable non-pecuniary rights damage, instead advocating nominal damages, regardless. (Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski) https://ballotpedia.org/Uzuegbunam_v._Preczewski#Outcome

In Nevada last week, the Democrat Socialist Party won all five leadership seats for that State's Democrat National Party affiliation. After which the entire staff of Nevada's Democratic Party resigned in opposition to the Socialist movement within their own group, taking approximately $450,000 with them and parking it with a different Democrat-affiliated organization. https://theintercept.com/2021/03/08/nevada-democratic-party-dsa/

The three experimental injections being distributed nationwide do not conform to the legal definition of “vaccine” or “vaccination,” nor are any approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). This is because the experimental injections are to-date not proven to provide immunity: (a) do not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection; (b) do not prevent occurrence of COVID19 disease; (c) do not prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID19 disease. https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/vaccine

The experimental injections only reduce symptoms of COVID19 disease for the approximate 19 percent of population who experience symptoms at all, therefore recipients are admonished to continue wearing mask(s) and socially distance indefinitely.

Furthermore, while all manufacturers of experimental injections for COVID have blanket immunity for liability from harm caused by the injections, the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson experimental injections are approved for “emergency use only” (EMU), and therefore do not qualify for current government-run program(s) to reimburse recipients harmed by these three designated COVID19 injections.

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-issues-emergency-use-authorization-third-covid-19-vaccine

In Iowa, it has been learned that, well before the 2020 November election, Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate's office introduced the progressive Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) during an annual conference of state-wide election officials, effectively endorsing large infusions of privately funded partisan grants into the public election offices of 64 Iowa counties. https://www.techandciviclife.org/

“COVID-19 Relief Grants' were awarded by CTCL to manage elections in targeted districts to advantage Democrats in the 2020 election. The grants came with instructions that required adherence or the grants would be owed back to CTCL for noncompliance.

Prior to the 2020 election, CTCL operated an approximately $1 million annual budget, engaging local election jurisdictions by offering free data collection and analytics tools, making it a natural for one of the world's largest data miners, FaceBook's Zuckerberg, to join forces using hundreds of millions of dollars to influence predetermined election outcomes, especially in swing states. (More on CTCL's, including many other partisan NGOs' and foundations' data collection and analytic to come.)

To this end, CTCL distributed more than $350 million, funded almost exclusively by FaceBook's Mark Zuckerberg and wife Pricilla Chan, of which Scott County received $426,000. This cash infusion exceeded the County's entire election budget. Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz, who ran unopposed in 2020, accepted two CTCL grants ($286,000 and $140,000) in October, despite several prior assurances the county election budget sufficed.

According to Auditor Moritz, in reports before the Scott County Board of Supervisors (SCBS) in midsummer through the fall 2020, the County's election was in good fiscal standing. All 63 polling locations would be open despite Covid challenges, with no shortfalls or additional funding requests forthcoming.

Since then, all manner of irregularities and/or crimes have surfaced that are connected to the Auditor's office that include violating state law. Among them are altering time cards of Primary poll workers to increase pay without Board approval, asking the SCBS for a resolution approving the increase in poll workers' pay to whitewash the discrepancy before the annual audit was certified, and allowing Republican John Maxwell on the ballot for a School Board position he was not eligible for as a sitting Scott County Supervisor.

This last oversight by Moritz is made more egregious by her office being one of three (auditor, recorder, and treasurer) that will appoint Maxwell's replacement on the Scott County Board of Supervisors until the next election.  [NOTE: Since this commentary was published in the March printed edition of the Reader, Auditor Moritz announced her resignation/retirement effective April 23, 2021.]

The only way for Scott Countians to stop bureaucracy corruption in election integrity with unaccountable funds and spending, regardless of party affiliation or which party or candidate is advantaged by such corruption, is to get involved in local civic business by attending council, supervisor, and government committees' meetings; running for local board seats (county supervisor, school board, city council, and the many committee seats throughout the administrations); watchdog and participate in election office processes (poll workers, election judges, ballot counters, etc, as this is urgently needed going forward); actively participate at the precinct level for a preferred political party; but at a minimum, begin attending meetings (county, city, school, and political parties) as a concerned citizen. Most are being held virtually so you can attend remotely. These are simple actions/activities that yield enormous reward if you persevere. Never underestimate your powers of observation, participation, and civic engagement in causing meaningful change.

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Now we circle back to education and local School Districts and Board adoption of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programming into curriculums that demand parents' attention.

If you are wondering where all the drama is coming from with censoring Dr. Seuss books, blurring gender lines, Critical Race Theory training prohibited then reinstated throughout the public sector, and Social Emotional Learning with its hyper focus on diversity and racism, the origins can be found largely in academia.

The MainStream Media (MSM), newly referred to as the M5M for Mainstream 5 Media (conglomerates) are all in, too, relentlessly reinforcing themes of white privilege, racism, and oppression as being responsible for the growing gaps in literacy, mathematics, science, and many other traditional academic categories of learning.

Both Academia and M5M are largely financed by familiar foundations and NGOs, including the Rockefeller Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Welcome Trust … . The list is not surprising. Their patronage underscores what Justice ClarenceThomas accurately coined “The bigotry of low expectations.” Which begs the question: Has a decision been made by funders and educators that too many of our children have fallen so far behind, that the more expedient solution is to lower standards for all students to assure equity in the classroom?

When viewed through a wider lens, or along a longer timeline, supported by stated goals within curricula, students are being incorporated into a larger mission of long term social activism, with teachers and administrators acting en masse as community organizers.

A deeper dive into the K-12 social emotional programming permeating schools in every state suggests a “divide and conquer” social scheme. And while there is nothing new in that centuries-old strategy, it is much better funded, organized, and now generationally deployed at ever-younger school ages.

What is new is the emphasis on emotional recognition and validation as equally instructive compared with reason and rational cogitation. It appears that Post Modernism doctrines provide the ideal platform for refocusing students toward social emotional learning that is measured by correct worldviews for advancement, in some cases taking precedence over literacy, math, or science competencies.

While emotionalism is definitely a tool for navigating life, it's infinitely inferior as the tool, evidenced by the breakdown in communication in the last decade. Few people are talking relative to cultural and political differences for fear of emotionally triggering others. Emotionalism has become the largest self censor-er of all.

Schools by social contract are places of higher cognitive development, without which humans languish intellectually. The chaos that underpins contextual-less learning found in Common Core is bearing this out. Thanks to COVID, the failure that is Common Core would be otherwise glaringly obvious by now. Instead, children are falling behind scholastically across disciplines due to sheer neglect and social isolation, leaving Common Core to escape under the radar, and with it accountability from school administrators and teachers.

But the new creed for the 21st century to never waste a crisis has resulted in promulgating Critical Race Theory (CRT), Culturally Responsive Teaching & Learning (CRTL), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and the 1619 Project, to name just a few transformative educational initiatives and programs. https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1254/critical-race-theory

Controversy plagues such programming within curricula, claiming it smacks of resurrecting racial division that has otherwise been gradually weeded out of the hearts and minds of each successive generation. The super-majority of Americans embrace the belief that skin color doesn't matter, that people need be judged by character and deeds, not by race or any other attribute we have no control over.

This positive core belief has transcended culture and society on an individual basis, with profound moral conviction, backed by an increasing body of laws to underscore the equality it means to invoke. This color blindness can especially be seen in the many places where children congregate, including schools and playgrounds.

Still, while vigilance and improvement is always needed, the danger of transformative education and SELs arguably lies in its promoting the goal of “equity” as a replacement for equality.

Equality describes equal in being, or “the same in value,” and applies most efficiently to the lowest common denominator of one for actually achieving it.

Equity means fairness, justice, and is a construct, often including some measurement or division for groupings.

Equality has a singular nature, it applies to each individual within a group, and does not confine itself to groups only. Equality does not require measurements or divisions, nor does it occur at the expense of others as each individual by definition has the same value.

Equity can and often does expend others for the sake of group fairness or justice, evidenced by the SEL's penchant for underscoring racial inequities, which are themselves divisive constructs in this tidal wave of transformative education.

Reinforcing students from K-12, then continuing through college and grad school, with the notions of equity being the higher aim over equality (from which natural, sustainable fairness and justice flow), necessitates a hierarchy of causation that pits one group against another, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Highlighting historical racism using Critical Race Theory, in order to persuade, advances a race-based villain/victim scenario, hence the focus on white supremacy, privilege, and oppressor of the other races and their progeny. Americans past and present grew up learning about the horrors of slavery, most especially the cruelty and diminution of African-Americans as enslaved property of white owners. The shame of “white oppression” is not lost on Americans through time, evidenced by an unyielding conviction to eliminate all racial injustice as a core value of American ethos.

As the 1619 Project agrees, Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the hypocrisy of his own slave ownership, especially in the bright light of his authoring the Declaration of Independence, therefore outlawing much of it. It took another 85 years before America fought a civil war for emancipation, but it was fought precisely because America recognized its crimes against humanity in the practice of slavery. https://archive.org/details/1619project/full_issue_of_the_1619_project

Fast forward to the present and it cannot be denied that most white people openly reject those past crimes with nonnegotiable resolve, further cemented by continued codification against all forms of cruelty and discrimination.

Yet children today, who have been taught from birth that skin color doesn't matter, are suddenly being conditioned via SELs to believe otherwise by hyper-focusing on differences that emphasize skin color, and the historically negative behavior that is presumed destined for repetition unless students are taught to check their privilege and many other biased inclinations.

This reverse conditioning as part of children's developmental programming has the potential for unrecognized, unattended defensiveness, insecurity, guilt, anxiety, all the toxic emotions that no amount of admission, self-effacing, self-recrimination, or self-loathing can on balance overcome because our children are psychologically forced into capitulating, apologizing, and emotionally paying for sins, attitudes, actions, and oppression they had no part in, neither as villain or victim.

It is important to note that SELs are also big business as of 2021. Initially, school districts in Iowa get these programs and support for free from a provider organization such as CASEL, then must pay for the programs going forward after full implementation is secure. School resources consumed for SELs are significant, including teachers' training to recognize and contain their own biases while teaching.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students.” https://casel.org/about-2/

According to its Web site, CASEL's mission “leads multiple initiatives and produces high-quality resources to advance and implement SEL practices and policies.” This includes Assessment work groups, SEL Assessment Guide, Collaborating District Initiatives, District Resource Center, and much more. But exactly how SELs achieve goals, and quantify improvement scores is harder to discern amid all the verbiage, requiring research by parents and stakeholders to identify the actual hands-on programming.

For 26 years, CASEL has been refining its SEL programming to achieve “equities and excellence for children” by weaving “SEL into the daily life of school from academic instruction to discipline practices.” https://www.the74million.org/article/niemi-casel-is-updating-the-most-widely-recognized-definition-of-social-emotional-learning-heres-why/

According to a CASEL research paper's introduction, “Transformative Social and Emotional Learning(SEL): Toward SEL in Service of Educational Equity and Excellence.”

This article seeks to develop transformative social and emotional learning (SEL), a form of SEL intended to promote equity and excellence among children, young people, and adults.We focus on issues of race/ethnicity as a first step toward addressing the broader range of extant inequities. Transformative SEL is anchored in the notion of justice-oriented citizenship, and we discuss issues of culture, identity, agency, belonging, and engagement as relevant expressions of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning 5 core competencies. We also point to programs and practices that hold promise for cultivating these competencies and the importance of adult professional development in making these efforts maximally effective for diverse children and youth. We conclude by offering a few next steps to further advance transformative SEL research and practice.

https://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Transformative-Social-and-Emotional-Learning-SEL-Toward-SEL-in-Service-of-Educational-Equity-and-Excellence.pdf

The researchers admit that these SELs, while implementing as far back as 26 years ago, are a long way from understanding how this conditioning will eventually express itself relative to “equities.” The five areas of achievement for students participating in SEL include “five inter-related sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.”

https://www.the74million.org/article/niemi-casel-is-updating-the-most-widely-recognized-definition-of-social-emotional-learning-heres-why/

CASEL is also a lobbying organization at the state level to persuade States Departments of Education and secure buy-in, eventually leading to legislative permanence via codification. This has just occurred in Illinois as of this publishing. In Illinois, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) upheld Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CRTL) Standards passed by the Illinois State Board of Education, codifying into law that requires all Illinois schools to implement this social emotional learning programming into their curriculums at every grade level K-12. https://www.isbe.net/Lists/News/NewsDisplay.aspx?ID=1349

The new CRTL standards include the following sections: (1) Self-Awareness and Relationships to Others; (2) Systems of Oppression; (3)Students as Individuals; (4) Students as Co-Creators; (5) Leveraging Student Advocacy; (6) Family and Community Collaboration; (7) Content Selections in All Curricula; (8) Student Representation in the Learning Environment.

Digging into these standards will help parents understand the trajectory of social emotional teaching for which social emotional learning is scored. The scoring is part of an entirely different set of issues that require serious vetting, including Social Impact Bonds (SIB) that represent private-public collaborations for investing in outcomes of these SELs. Private investors provide the initial funds via social impact bonds for public education SELs in various School Districts, eventually recouping their investment with interest, thereby simultaneously enriching Wall Street if students perform according to the preset measures of improvement for the particular SIB. https://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/social-impact-bonds.aspx

Contrarily, Iowa has legislation in process (H.R. 222) that would remove funding for any Iowa school district using the 1619 Project and other similar SEL programs due its controversial lack of historical accuracy as curriculum-appropriate. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=HF222&ga=89

Social Emotional Learning is arguably the purview of parents, but whether they have abdicated or academia has usurped that responsibility is debatable. Meanwhile, perhaps instead of resurrecting racism to achieve equity, school programs should focus on unity to achieve equality.

Parents, grandparents, and interested parties can get involved in their children's education and curricula by attending their school board meetings, whose times and locations are posted in this issue on pages 12-13 [available here at the Reader online calendar]. As myriad unions across the land encourage, “Labor respects what management inspects.” In this case, you parents are the managers, so inspect.

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