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We are grateful when concerned parents reach out to Parents for America with important information they’ve uncovered. By doing so, Parents for America is given the opportunity to share this important information with other concerned parents, guardians, and citizens in hope to help others expose what’s going on in their children’s K-12 schools. Below you will find a letter that was sent to Parents for America from a concerned parent in Illinois regarding Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how parents can opt out their K-12 children from Social Emotional Learning.

Letter From A Concerned Parent to Parents For America

“Hello everyone,

I am relatively new here and I am very grateful for this site and the information Petrina and everyone else provides.

I would like to contribute to this with something I learned when my wife and I inquired if we were able to opt our son out of SEL, and when I completed a FOIA for his curriculum in regards to Social Studies-Equality and Justice at his school.

I first contacted the President of our school board in regards to opting out of SEL learning who then had someone from the district respond to me. We received a response from the Assistant Superintendent. Her email stated “Due to Public Act 93-0495 as well as BOE policy, we do not have an opt out option for social/emotional learning.” She provided her information and was very nice about it. Needless to say, I did not want to simply take her word for it, so I decided to contact the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and specifically asked if I was able to opt our son out of SEL, and if there was a form the State provided. 

Here is the response I received from ISBE:

” These standards were not meant to be a stand alone class or curriculum, they are a framework for including SEL across curricular areas. If you feel that the manner in which the school is implementing SEL is not effective or aligns with your beliefs you can reach out to the local PTA Organization, local School Board, or District Support Staff to inquire about other means of SEL integration. Furthermore, parents retain the right to opt their child out of curricular content areas (105 ILCS 110/3;105 ILCS 112/15;105 ILCS 5/27-13.1), so you could also inquire about doing so with your local district.”

He also provided many resources to me on why SEL was a good thing. Overall, for working at ISBE he was very neutral and friendly in our correspondence. I then asked if the school can retaliate against our son for opting him out of SEL and received this response “And you are correct, they cannot retaliate or punish your child for you requesting to have them opted out.”

I sent the response that I received from ISBE with the above laws cited to the Assistant Superintendent. In the same email we also chose to opt him out of the survey and screening process that we learned our school was doing as part of SEL. We found out that our school district was using the Second Step Program from his teacher who sent me the learning material when I asked. The material she sent me was developed by the Committee for Children, and we also learned through a FOIA that InquirED was providing the curriculum.

The part of my FOIA that was denied had to do with the material that InquirED was providing to the school. With that said, they did invite us to view the course content that will be taught around April/May. My wife has watched the webinar from InquirED and is well versed on it. What we saw in his Social Studies curriculum under Equality and Justice was everything that Petrina learned about to include using the George Floyd protest within the instruction. Needless to say, that aggravated both of us and was upsetting, along with other portions of the curriculum. Why would they have that as a form of instruction for 3rd graders?

We then decided to opt him out of the screening and studying process that was part of the SEL program and also stated specifically that we were considering opting him completely out of the SEL program. We received this response. “I understand that, as a family, you are still discussing (Our son’s ) participation in social-emotional instruction overall. As Mrs. — communicated in an earlier response, we as a District are still responsible for all the ISBE SEL standards. If anything shifts following conversations within your family, please let — and myself know.”

I wanted to share our experience in hopes that it could help someone who is considering writing a FOIA for the curriculum that is being taught to your child or children, and also know that you can opt out of SEL.

My guess is that they will see the loophole in the above ILCS laws and close it through legislation and then force SEL at all schools with no opt out right.

Right now, we are both seeing where this goes and if he is being treated differently due to the questions and information we learned, and the fact that we challenged them and won our argument about opting out. I hope this helps some, or all of you to continue challenging your school districts and don’t be afraid of the FOIA curriculum, emails, etc…Thank you.”

It’s Time To Expose The Truth

Parents for America realizes that we can no longer simply complain about the things going on in our children’s K-12 schools. K-12 schools are not being transparent with parents and guardians which means it is our duty as parents and guardians to expose the truth about what local, state, and federal education officials are doing. It’s up to us to stop the corruption in our children’s K-12 schools.

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