The Missouri Board of Education is giving the state’s K-12 public schools the option to use social emotional learning guidelines. The instruction is intended to teach students interpersonal skills, teamwork, empathy, and to be successful in life.

Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, said board members did the right thing by making the education optional.

“If making it mandatory and making it optional were two options, they made the right decision. If there was an option to do nothing, they might have been better off to do nothing. But I don’t know if that was an option at this point,” Pollitt told Missourinet.

The board was originally considering whether to adopt social emotional standards. That hit a nerve with some people.

Some said teaching this type of learning is a way to justify diversity, equity, and inclusion education. Another opposing theme said the learning 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.

“In most districts, it would probably go well. You get into the districts where there’s just a lack of what you believe is accurate and what you don’t believe and you start having the school district, start teaching things that there’s a huge part of your community that doesn’t agree with, it’s just a problem. And that’s what was going to happen with social emotional learning, to be honest with you. That’s my opinion,” he said.

Pollitt, the chair of the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, expects the topic of social emotional learning to come up after lawmakers begin their new session.

“Will it be hammered on like it would have been? If the department would have made it mandatory, it would have been a disaster. It would have been a huge deal,” he said.

The Missouri Legislature’s next session begins January 3 in Jefferson City.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.