Monday, October 11, 2021

SEL – A foundation in unsettled science

In the previous post, we looked at how Semantic Deception is central to the selling of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and that's also the case with the organization most responsible for promoting it, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which is the consortium that was formed in 1994 to promote SEL. CASEL's 'product', SEL, and its subset of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in particular, make extensive use of semantic deceptions, carefully phrasing matters so that they seem one way to most people, while conveying an entirely different meaning to others - and justifying actions based upon that less understood meaning. That is a pattern that can be seen repeating itself throughout who they purport to be as an organization, how they portray their own history, in SEL's claims to being 'science based', and in the experimental nature of what it proposes as *education* for our students.
The second of five posts making up the substance of a presentation I gave to parents in the Lindbergh School District

A good place to start looking into this, is with two points that CASEL has made about SEL, one from their About page, and another from last year's 'bold new updating' of SEL's purpose, which gives a good glimpse into the nature of who they see themselves as being, and how they intend that to impact everyone else. The first comes from a their claim that:
  • 1)“…Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development."
, the less important but more jarring thing to note, is that the statement is a bit like saying ‘Veins are the means by which blood circulates through the body”, while actively evading any mention or hint of the role that's played by the arteries, lungs or even the heart. But more to the point, that is not a policy statement of how best to go about learning - in that it’s not a “Learning is promoted by orderly classrooms” sort of statement, or even a ‘Graphics make textbooks easier to digest’ bit of foolishness - instead, it makes a broad philosophical claim about the nature of learning in general, and in that grand statement there's something of the magician’s flourish drawing our attention towards it... and away from what their statement about learning leaves out:
  • Content.
The keyword in SEL is ‘Social’, and it is not a process for learning content, but for manipulating and conforming behavior to the targeted perspectives of the ‘authentic’ group (see psychological manipulations through surveys), without regard to content. They aren't seeking a society that is built from the inside out by individuals who understand what should be understood, in order to become informed and capable of living lives worth living in society with others - a society such as that, requires an education that is focused upon content, and a content carefully selected, at that.

SEL envisions a very different sort of society, and a very different kind of world than a Western, or American, one. SEL is intended and designed as a predetermined – equitable – solution to be imposed from the outside -> in, and from the top->down, with students, and you, and me, forced to fit into the *woke* mold that 'those who know best' have prepared for us.

Their second point speaks volumes about their nature and approach towards us:
  • 2) "In the 26 years since CASEL introduced the term “social and emotional learning,” the research and practice of SEL have grown tremendously."
Keeping in mind that SEL is actively being injected into every subject in our schools (and more), including math & sports, we should consider what that means and requires: that educational practices that’ve been refined over millennia, are to be meddled with, corrupted, or jettisoned outright in favor of a few theoreticians newest pet theories that they've concocted in less than a few decades, and which they’d like nothing more than to experiment with upon everyone else's kids.

Of course you could say that sometimes traditions do need to be overturned, and it’s usually mavericks that do so, but... when that happens, they’ve usually got a surprisingly remarkable track-record that demonstrates the amazing ability and effectiveness of their insights - someone like a Marva Collins comes to mind (though sadly, not to theirs) – do the people behind SEL have that? Is the position that they arrived at, a result of solid proven results, or of arrogance, or something else?

Let’s take a look.

SEL – A foundation in unsettled science
The genesis for SEL, was a 1960’s program run under Yale University’s Child Study Center umbrella, with Dr. James Comer's "Comer School Development Program". Comer’s plan was to organize three teams within each school, made up of psychologists or certified evaluators, school staff, and parents, whose point was to get teachers & parents to be more actively involved with students in their social & educational development. A worthy ideal perhaps, though it bears pointing out that having parents and teachers involved in students' education was the norm before the progressive industrial school model was established six decades earlier, which was specifically designed to eliminate that, so... what he purports to be attempting to do, is to reinstate within the current system, a feature which the current system was, and still is, designed to eliminate, which... although apparently worthy, is hardly practical or forthright.

Not surprisingly, its results didn’t live up to its aims. One professor looking into it, commented that:
"...The Comer Program can be very successful. However, its success relies on the enthusiasm and commitment of the people involved in the change. Teachers, administrators, and parents need to be committed to making it work, or else it will not work. Some schools even see staff turnover as a positive opportunity for new enthusiasm....
Aside from the fact that seeking to maximize ‘burnout’ is not typically seen as the sign of a sound plan, Comer claimed to have improved achievement and diminished behavioral problems in the several hundred New Haven schools he was ‘given’ to experiment upon. And yet:
  • Critics note that he dropped one of the schools altogether and replaced it with another and took seven years to record any substantial improvement.
  • Thirty years later, Comer himself admitted that only about a third of the 650 schools implementing his program had been able to “sustain the reforms.”
  • Other researchers also studied the program’s implementation in various cities and found little benefit to either academic achievement or juvenile-justice interactions.
On top of that, researchers studying Comer's system, found that:
  • Quasi-experimental... psychological outcomes not achievement content
  • "...assessed annually between Grades 5 and 8 using a self-report measure of acting out. The present study ... revealed no evidence favoring SDP between Grades 5 and 8, and the same was basically true during the high school years...."
IOW, students figured out what the ‘teams’ wanted to hear them say and self-reported to the researchers what they wanted to hear about how much they felt they'd changed, but their actual performance and delinquent behaviors, remained unchanged.

All of which indicates that there’s no sound basis for claiming a ‘scientific justification’ for the program. Nevertheless, aspects of reports on the Comer approach are cherrypicked and presented in such a way as to deceive people into believing that some substance follows from the appearances, and those deceptive 'successes', have been cited as the scientific foundation for much of the current push for SEL. Idea Laundering in action.

More 'Science!’ than Science
CASEL itself was formed years later out of the reputations of Yale programs such as Comer’s, and of W.T. Grant (with one of the Kennedy/Shriver kids), and around the growing fad of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ which hit its stride with the popularity of Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, which argues that:
'Character matters and, more significantly, the skills that build character can be taught'
Someone saying that they’ve ‘discovered’ that character can be taught and how to do it, should raise a number of red flags, but more importantly than that, Character is not a skill, or even the result of skills. Character (Websters Dictionary 1828 - Webster's Dictionary 1828 - Character):
“... 1. A mark made by cutting or engraving...4. The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which he is supposed to possess, constitute his estimated character, or reputation. Hence we say, a character is not formed, when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities....”
, character is the quality of engraving who you are and who you are going to be upon your soul, by your careful & continuous attention to what’s True, Right & Wrong - your character is what results from how well you've become the lessons that you've learned.

Skills, OTOH, are techniques and actions which require little or no understanding, and can be learned through periodic practice by anyone, for any purpose, good or bad. Anyone can be trained to be handle a gun, anyone can be trained in hand-to-hand combat, but not everyone has the character to be a good police officer. And the person who is so impressed with their skills that they give little thought to their character, tend to suffer from that failing that the Greeks were so concerned with: Hubris. Neither is it wise to forget the person who has developed no worthwhile character or virtue, but picks up the skills of how to ingratiate themselves to normal, unsuspecting people (Shout out to Ted Bundy).

Pretenses aside, Daniel Goleman, is not a scientist, he’s a New York Times journalist who wrote stories about science, and of course he's one of the founders of CASEL. But his articles and book on 'Emotional Intelligence' both rode and fanned the waves of similar books and articles elevating emotional skills over our traditional understanding of intelligence.

The problem is, that many if not most intelligent and informed scientists, clinicians, psychologists, have rejected those claims. From the start, Goleman’s conclusions have been disputed, and even the existence of the concept of “emotional intelligence" itself, has been extremely questionable. One particular psychologist did his best to make his opposition to the program very clear:
“Let me say it again: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EQ. Scientifically, it’s a fraudulent concept, a fad, a convenient band-wagon, a corporate marketing scheme… “
, that particular psychologist, years before he gained popularity, was Jordan Peterson.

Yet CASEL used ideas such as those expressed in the book to justify SEL, and its baseless popularity was influential enough for SEL to become incorporated into fed & state laws, beginning with Clinton's 'GOALS 2000: Educate America Act‘, 1994.

Once again, cultivating false appearances to be used to make significant changes in peoples lives, which have little or no basis in the facts, being used to justify consequential actions in all of our lives.

The heads behind the ideals guiding CASEL
Linda Darling-Hammond was an early Board Member, and now member Emeritus, and a very influential voice in CASEL. Her ideas were such that she became the preferred DoEd nominee of 60's radical terrorist turned 'educator' - Bill Ayers. Regardless of how well they did or didn’t personally know each other, Ayers understood Darling-Hammond's ideas and agreed that they were what he found to be of ‘value’, and wished to see actively in charge of the federal Dept of Education. If that isn't worrisome to you, you've got some studying up to do on the subject.

Do these 'Mavericks' somehow have a track-record to support their ideas? It’s a natural hope, but... nope. Ayers' attempt to implement his ideas in an Annenberg Challenge, failed miserably, and Darling-Hammond's 'experimental school' had the distinction of making the 'lowest achieving 5% list in California. Go figure.

Linda Darling-Hammond is also a frequent co-author with and collaborator of, Gloria Ladson Billings, a name you might recall from the previous post, as one of those developing the 'discipline' of 'Critical Pedagogy' and "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy" into the 'normal' pedagogy that's taught to teachers in teachers colleges. Ladson-Billings was also the author of 'Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education' in 1995, which she described as being a means of injecting Critical Race Theory into the popular form of pedagogy that's been taught to waves upon waves of teachers in teachers colleges, across our nation. One of the purposes she intended that pedagogy to convey, was her own personal opposition to that understanding of property rights and individual rights which she (correctly) understood America to have been founded upon,
  • "... race is still a significant factor in determining inequity in the US and that the society is based on property rights rather than human rights..."
, and she opposes that for reasons that rest upon one of those rare points of agreement (though at cross-purposes), between the ideas of John Adams, James Madison, and Karl Marx:
"Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist."
John Adams, 'Discourses on Davila', following his 'A Defense of the Constitutions of the Governments of the United States of America'
"...Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own...."
James Madison, 'Property', 29 Mar. 1792
"In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."
Karl Marx, 'Communist Manifesto'
Meaning that Linda Darling-Hammond, and other board members and staff of CASEL, echo, support, and write on, the need for CASEL & SEL to reflect those ideas which are compatible & intertwined with both CRT, and an ideology of explicitly anti-American ideas & 'values', which are seen as being very compatible with those of the very anti-American and unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers. One reason why that is, is that they share the same goals, reasons and purposes - ending Western Civilization in general, and America in particular.

It’s also worth noting, that the two most assigned authors in Teachers’ Colleges, are Billings & Hammond

So basically, these people who are intent upon undermining the basis of our society and rule of law, have new theories and experiments which they are intent upon trying out upon our children, to see if the ‘outcomes’ match those outcomes which they want to lab-rat them into, even though according to every measurable outcome of the 3R's aspect of education, they repeatedly fail on every count , demonstrating that the 3R's which are what most of us still think of as being the point of education, are not the educational outcomes which they are concerned with. What they are concerned with, is how successfully the appearances of their programs goals, are at deceiving the public into tolerating more, and more, of their experiments upon us.

Transforming science into science!'
The fine folks from the DEI office of Lindbergh School District, gave a presentation on the wonders of SEL for their schools, using a couple of CASEL's selling points for SEL, to sell their program to the public. They note that:
  • "Research shows that SEL not only improves achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, empathy)..."
    (Durlak et al., 2011)
The problem is that the research showing SEL improving an average achievement of 11 percentile points, increasing prosocial behaviors, improving student attitudes toward school, less depression & stress... is 'flawed'. The Durlak meta-analysis itself admitted several limitations:
  • Only 16% of the studies collected information on academic achievement at post [intervention].”
  • Only 32% assessed skills as an outcome.”
  • Because there is no standardized approach in measuring social and emotional skills, there is a need for theory-driven research that not only aids in the accurate assessment of various skills but also identifies how different skills are related.”
  • Only a few studies tested and found a temporal relationship between skill enhancement and other positive outcomes.”
  • With over half of studies based on elementary students, it’s difficult to know if the interpretations for the youngest age group are developmentally appropriate for older children and adolescents.
But wait! There’s more 'science!' The Lindbergh SEL staff also used this slide to sell SEL to the Lindbergh School District Board of Education:
  • "Programming in social and emotional learning across the school year drives increases in executive functioning, self-efficacy, persistence, prosocial behavior, grades, and scores on standardized tests...."
    The Evidence Base for How We Learn Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The Aspen Institute, September 2017."
, and as with the other slide, the Aspen Institute itself, in (March 3, 2018), p. 12, acknowledged that legitimate assessment of such skills is 'a challenge', because despite the almost unlimited benefits claimed for SEL (from wage growth and long-term employment to reduction in violence, delinquency, and drug use), they noted that:
  • “...caution is warranted in interpreting the assessment results.  While learning-condition surveys are valuable in guiding next steps, they are not valid for accountability purposes.”
  • Sheldon Berman, Sydney Chaffee, & Julia Sarmiento, The Practice Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, The Aspen Institute
,which, as CASEL Board Member Linda Darling-Hammond is also a co-chair of the Aspen Institute, CASEL is fully aware of these results, but they've in no way allowed to slow or stop them from promoting such false appearances to school districts and parents.

Given the nature of CASEL, it's not surprising that the team selling SEL failed to mention these very relevant scientific facts in their presentation - the fact is that the ‘science!’ being used to sell SEL to the American public, isn’t supported by the actual science that they are using to sell it with - Semantic Deception is in their cultural DNA.

"Because, because, because, because..."
When the fine folks at CASEL say they are doing X, because of Y, you can safely assume that is as at best, a ploy. They propose to do X, because they think they can get away with X, if they tell you they're doing it because of Y. You can see this, in how they've changed their tune since CASEL's CEO, Karen Niemi, made her bold statement updating how they meant to put SEL in line with Social Justice, but... after the nationwide anti-CRT backlash from parents, CASEL has sanitized their website. A month ago this link to: "" opened to the page on the right in the picture below, on "Transformative SEL as a Lever for Equity & Social Justice", which spoke boldly of the importance of schools promoting the active pursuit of "social justice!", whereas today, that link quietly redirects to a much more sanitized "" version on "How Does SEL Support Educational Equity and Excellence?", with much happy talk and no mention of Social Justice at all. 

Rest assured, their aims have not changed, only their pretexts for them have, they are still very actively pursuing hardcore social justice... but on the bright side, it shows that the reaction of parents nationwide is one outcome that rocked them back on their heels, and it is one that they are monitoring very closely.
Now, vs a month ago

You can make a difference, but only if we don't continue to fall for their deceptions.

It is important for us to note that when we see a repeated pattern of such deceptions as using appearances to justify unrelated actions, over and over, as we already have, then what we are seeing is evidence that logic and reason have been abandoned, and because that is so, whenever you see the *Woke* using the word ‘because’, you need to be aware that more than likely it is being used as a means of semantic deception

This is not a small point, but a central one that needs to be taken to heart.

The word ‘because’ indicates and presumes a logical connection between what came before, and what follows after it, which they take full advantage of the appearances of the language they use, but their actions, their history, their 'scientific' justifications, their 'thinkers' hidden motivations, demonstrate that they have flatly rejected the reality and responsibility of making any such logical connections. That disregard for reality follows from their rejection of 'objective reality' and what their true focus is, the pursuit of power, over truth, and we'll soon begin looking at their explicitly saying just that.

In short, they use ‘because’, because you do, because you presume that it is being used to convey an effect which has logically been shown to follow from a cause. But they do not use it that way, instead they use ‘because’ as a convenient means of stringing random assertions together, a way to assert X, and then assert Y, by counting upon the strength of what YOU will assume they conveyed in their statements, and not wanting to admit that you weren't able to follow their reasoning, they count on your nodding along with them as if you were convinced by what they've said.

For them, your nodding along is power, power which they eagerly take from you, and twist to their own purposes to be used upon and against you. Whenever you hear the *Woke* say ‘because’, pay attention, because they’re hoping to slip some bit of illogical nonsense past you as if they'd just given you a logical reason that justified it.

IOW: As with that old saw about “The operation was a success… but the patient died”, the important part as SEL sees it, is not that one thing follows from or achieves another, but that you were swayed by the appearances that it had, so that for their purposes, the 'logical operation' was a success, even though the patient, Truth, died. For those behind SEL, the patient dying is of no concern - this particular doctor’s patients typically do die - yet from their perspective, the operations are all successful, and that appearance of success is what they use to continue performing their educational malpractice upon the kids in our schools.

Next, we'll get into what SEL substitutes for Character, and why.

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