Missouri Education Board downgrades SEL standards amid ‘great deal of confusion’

Poor public understanding of social emotional learning ‘created more divisiveness,’ commissioner says
Missouri not moving forward with social-emotional learning standards
Published: Oct. 17, 2023 at 6:28 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Missouri’s Board of Education decides not to move forward with developing social-emotional learning standards for K-12 schools.

The board decided because of what members described as “widespread misunderstanding” of what the framework intended to do, the board opted to simply offer the materials as an optional resource for schools.

“During our review it became clear that there was a great deal of confusion around social emotional learning and what it means,” noted Chrissy Bashore, director of school counseling.

The proposed standards, called Competencies Of Relationship-building Education or CORE, set benchmarks for students to develop their emotional intelligence and social skills.

The framework got mixed reactions from parents, teachers and school stakeholders.

Notably, though, of the 1,806 responses, more than 150 of the responses that expressed disapproval of the learning standards used identical wording, indicating that the text was directly copied from a single source, or a single author submitted dozens of the same response.

“What has become clear to us is that what we were trying to do and bringing together and unifying an approach that we could all support has had the opposite effect, it’s created a bit more divisiveness than we would like to see,” said Commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Members said that they believe these skills are badly needed, and that the workforce is already being affected by their diminishment.

“I hear from employers all the time saying, ‘we’re getting students that lack soft skills, they don’t know how to work in teams, they don’t know how to work towards a common goal,’” recounted Board president Charles Shields.

Members said the board’s work on social-emotional learning will continue, but will be rebranded with a more palatable phrase.