Who Should Run for School Boards?

by Joe O’Royrke

School Board elections are coming. The filing deadline for candidates is March 24 (March 31 for write-in candidates). The election date is May 3.

Now is the time to enlist candidates who will respect the rights of parents to be fully involved in their child’s education. It is well past time to remove school board members whose loyalties lie with the progressive educational establishment and their ‘woke’ mentors.

There has been a lot of attention paid to the educational scheme known as Critical Race Theory or CRT. But have you heard about a curriculum that is in our schools called Social and Emotional Learning or SEL?

Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL, is the curriculum developed and promoted by a well-funded nation-wide organization called CASEL short for Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. On the CASEL webpage major donors mentioned include The Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation and The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. Even though the Montana Office of Public Education supports and promotes SEL, it is NOT a creation of local or state educators. It is not a Montana plan or product.

Did you know that SEL is now in most, if not all Montana schools? While Critical Race Theory is now prohibited from being taught in Montana schools by Montana law, it is not the only program that Parents should be concerned about. SEL is another curriculum that merits close scrutiny.

There is a group in Columbia Falls that has been questioning the introduction of SEL into School District 6. It does not appear that the Columbia Falls School Board exercised due diligence in implementing this program and there is no evidence that parents were consulted before or after the program’s enactment. I am a member of that group. What we have found is that SEL is a system designed to incorporate an extensive list of goals or “Competencies” into the social and emotional education of our children. If you thought that teaching those skills was once the responsibility of parents, you would be correct. Those Competencies are so extremely broad that any skill set, ideology or fad, whether beneficial or destructive for children, can find shelter under this broad umbrella. It appears that the topics presented in the SEL curriculum in the Columbia Falls schools to date, have not been destructive, but that can change as Board members, administrators and personnel change. In a worst case scenario, SEL supersedes the role of parents in educating their own children in suitable ways to live a moral, productive life, and to properly contribute to the betterment of society. Do the SEL “Competencies” conflict with the desires of many parents? It is time to find out.

Below are some of the unanswered questions about the adoption and implementation of this stealth curriculum that I presented to the SD6 Board during my Public Comment time at a recent Board meeting:

  1. Who selected and introduced SEL into the School District 6 curriculum?
  2. Who determined that valuable academic time would be devoted to this non-academic exercise?