Proposed standards for K-12 social-emotional education are expected to be a hot topic at Tuesday’s Missouri Board of Education meeting. The board is scheduled to decide whether to approve the standards that are designed to help public school students develop interpersonal skills for relationships, school, and the future workplace.
A department survey with 1,800 comments shows a slim majority of respondents support the proposed standards. The survey results, collected over a 30-day period, are on deck to be shared at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Some comments in support of the standards say teaching these skills will give students the foundation to grow into healthy, well-rounded adults. Another theme says the standards prepare students to navigate social interactions and relationships effectively, fostering empathy, communication skills, teamwork, and conflict resolution abilities.
Not everyone is on board with the standards. Some say teaching this type of learning is a way to justify diversity, equity, and inclusion education. Another opposing theme says the standards would encourage teachers to act as psychologists, but without a license. A third theme said social-emotional education is the role of the parent, not the school.
During the August Board of Education meeting, President Charlie Shields, of St. Joseph, said he expected the debate about social-emotional learning to create controversy.
“I can see people are going to say (we’re) telling our students how they should think about things, and this is not what this is at all,” said Shields. “It’s creating a set of norms of what civility looks like. “Given all the challenges we face, if we can’t (have the standards), how do you expect learning to happen?”

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