Idaho’s social-emotional debate: a national perspective

The blowback over an Idaho social-emotional learning proposal — which unfolded in a House Education Committee hearing last week — has gone national.

Evie Blad of Education Week picked up on Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin’s coverage from House Education, and wrote about the larger debate over social-emotional learning, or SEL.

“The reception Idaho leaders faced is a slice of pushback that occasionally bubbles up around the country as interest grows in social-emotional learning efforts,” Blad wrote Thursday.

Blad interviewed state superintendent Sherri Ybarra Thursday, and Ybarra said she had heard some House Education critics were circulating materials from the Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts group that has referred to SEL as a “new-age nanny state.”

Blad’s story also quotes from a 2018 report from the multistate Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, or CASEL.

“Some states have encountered pockets of political resistance to having schools involved in SEL at all,” CASEL reports. “Opponents of SEL often say it is the primary responsibility of families. These communication challenges can be successfully weathered. Critical to success is deep listening to understand concerns of the community, as well as a clear plan for communicating with and engaging stakeholders. The plan should identify key goals and audiences, clarify key messages, and prioritize key strategies for sharing those messages.”

Ybarra and Gov. Brad Little have both proposed a $1 million line item, designed to provide SEL training to school employees. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the K-12 budget requests on March 3.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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