Tennessee won’t be a part of a national collaboration around social and emotional learning in schools and, according to state Senator Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, we have Jim Tracy to thank (or blame?) for that.
Just last month, the Department of Education announced our state’s selection to participate in a multi-state collaboration around social and emotional learning.
Since then, the plan has faced some criticism, including from lawmakers.
Chalkbeat’s Grace Tatter reports that Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia questioned the need for such collaboration at a recent hearing:
The recent pushback over social-emotional standards also has included a wariness of collaborative work across state lines, an attitude that contributed to the state’s decision to scrap the Common Core academic standards for math and reading in favor of “homegrown standards” that Tennessee will roll out in 2017.
“I don’t understand why we have to constantly collaborate with other states,” Rep. Sheila Butt said during a summer study session last month. “We don’t have to do it that way.”
Oh, and there’s Jim Tracy. He penned an op-ed in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro taking credit for Tennessee rejecting the funding for the project.
After hearing from many constituents about potential funding for this controversial program, I contacted the Department of Education. This action helped in the decision making process by the DOE to decline funding for it.
Tatter explains the “controversial” initiative this way:
The social and emotional standards developed with CASEL would have set benchmarks for what students should know or be able to do in each grade when it comes to skills such as decision-making, self-awareness, social awareness, self-control, and establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.
And here’s how the program was described when it was announced:
The standards will be developed in collaboration with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, also known as CASEL, which announced this week that Tennessee will join the initiative along with California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. The national organization previously has partnered with urban districts including Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools but is branching out into state policy to spread strategies around social and emotional learning.
Tennessee’s new standards will be drafted beginning Sept. 1 by a team that includes researchers, parents and educators. The final product will be reviewed next July by the State Board of Education.
A multi-state collaboration with both national experts and Tennessee educators and parents on an issue shown to have a clear impact on student behavior and performance — that’s what we just scrapped.
For its part, the state says it will still focus on social and emotional learning, just without the input of CASEL or the collaboration from state partners.
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