It has been called the “next storm brewing” in Alabama but local opponents of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) warn that SEL programs are infiltrating schools across the nation. In recent months, parents’ groups around the country have protested against SEL programs, demanding their removal from schools.
In Alabama, grassroots organizations like LocalAlabama and Save Alabama’s Values and Education (SAVE) have caught the attention of political leaders. The Alabama GOP unanimously approved a proposed resolution opposing SEL, which will be considered at the ALGOP Winter Meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham on February 19.
“The Resolution committee voted to unanimously accept it,” said Mike Parsons, of SAVE. “It will be presented this Saturday at the State Executive Committee (SEC) meeting for final approval.”
The summary text of the resolution reads as follows:
“Request all House and Senate Republicans to support the ALABAMA EDUCATION FREEDOM BILL which will eliminate the American School Counselors Association’s (ASCA) National Model in all Alabama schools (hereinafter ASCA National Model), which is being used to indoctrinate all Alabama public-school students, grades K-12, in a Personal/Social Development Program (which includes social engineering—diversity, equity, same-sex marriage, etc) without the knowledge of the parents.”
Parsons told 1819 News he has worked with the legal division of the Legislative Services Agency to draft a bill that would remove the national SEL program from Alabama schools.
“At this time, I am trying to line up key sponsors in the House and Senate who could push it through committee and get it to the floor for a vote.” Parsons said.
Parsons points to recent protests over Critical Race Theory (CRT) around the nation but says that is only a small part of the bigger program.
“Nobody knows anything about this indoctrination program,” Parsons said. “When I address it, people normally jump on the CRT flavor of the day.
“In my opinion, CRT is a minor issue embedded in the program. I would rather stay at the big picture level and not get bogged down in the weeds,” he said. Parsons added the SEL programs are spread across all grade levels, K-12, in Alabama.
In a presentation shared with 1819 News, Parsons said the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) adopted national standards from the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) which include approximately 120 “competency indicators” which indoctrinate children to “accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”
Citing one example from ALSDE’s ‘Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance State Model for Alabama Public Schools’, published in 2003, Parsons noted students in grades K-2 are expected to “recognize and respect differences in various family configurations.” Parsons said this competency indicator introduces the concept of a “family configuration of two men, two women, and a man and a woman” at these early grade levels.
“ALSDE’s invasion into our homes has been done administratively and under the radar of most citizens [and] parents in Alabama,” said Parsons. “ALSDE should never be involved with a program shaping how our students think and act. That is the parent’s job.”
Tyler Thrasher, of LocalAlabama, says the key is for parents to be more involved. He encourages parents to attend meetings at the school and the school board and to stay engaged in knowing what lessons are being taught to their children.
“If you remove the bad stuff out of it, it’s actually a good program,” Thrasher said. Thrasher commented some of the early grade lessons on recognizing anger or sadness and how to respond to it is important.
“If you’re mad, calm down," said Thrasher. "Take a deep breath. Don’t react. It’s on the kindergarten level.
According to Thrasher, when you dig deeper into the programs for each year the messaging becomes more focused on creating behavior.
“It all builds up," said Thrasher. "So, they have 12 years to subtly put stuff in there. Allyship is a keyword. You’ll hear it a lot. They want to make a bunch of social justice activists out of our children.”
Thrasher has been involved in the group Mountain Brook Parents, which has spoken out on issues in recent months. However, he stressed his concern is not in fighting against school boards.
“I’m very cautious in making this a battle not with our local schools, but more of a partnership with them to fight outside pressure to teach this in our schools,” he said.
Thrasher was recently elected to serve on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee (SEC) where he will be seated during the winter meeting and potentially vote on the proposed education bill stripping SEL out of the Alabama education curriculum.
The synopsis of the bill reads as follows:
“This bill would prohibit the State Department of Education, public K-12 school officials, teachers, school counselors, or any private or public organization affiliated with Alabama public K-12 schools from implementing or maintaining any program that uses American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Standards and competency indicators or any variation of these standards designed to direct Alabama public school students' perception of ASCA's view of concepts, values, attitudes, and beliefs, using the process of introducing the competency indicators at selected grade clusters, then reinforcing them with the expectation that all students master the concepts by the end of the 12th grade.”
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