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Hi,  A couple of months ago, we published an article about social and emotional learning. ...


A couple of months ago, we published an article about social and emotional learning. I’d seen some parents in our school district complaining about it, and the schools had decided to let families opt their children out of an SEL survey they were conducting. I was curious about the hullabaloo, did some research, and it seemed mostly harmless. (I let our kids do the survey.) I wanted someone smart to explain to me why this was becoming an issue. And I figured that our readers would, too.

Fortunately, I have a long list of experts I can turn to on a wide range of subjects. In this case, I turned to Frederick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. In his piece, he explained that: 

There’s much about SEL that appeals. It’s stuff that good schools (and parents) have always done, and it’s been a healthy course correction for an education system that’s been test-obsessed in recent decades while giving short shrift to character development and civic formation. … But as with so many well-meaning education reforms, SEL has a Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect. As has been true with the Common Core and “anti-racist education” (née critical race theory), SEL can be reasonably described both as a sensible, innocuous attempt to tackle a real challenge and, too often, an excuse for a blue, bubbled industry of education funders, advocates, professors, and trainers to promote faddish nonsense and ideological agendas. The latter is why SEL invariably comes up as a justification for doing away with traditional grading, eliminating advanced math, subjecting students and staff to “privilege walks,” or teaching first-graders about gender identity.

After I asked Hess to write the piece but before he filed, I noticed a friend discussing the issue on Twitter. She and I are a bit different—I’m a moderately conservative suburbanite living in the Midwest and she’s an urban liberal living on the East Coast, but she had many of the same questions I did. So when we published the article, she reached out to let me know she liked it and said, “Am I Republican now?” 

We had a good laugh (or some LOLs, I guess, since this was an online chat) and shared some horror stories about extremism infiltrating schools from both sides. And we decided that agreeing on such issues doesn’t mean that either of us have switched teams, just that we’re sane.

We’re very upfront here at The Dispatch that we’re coming from a center-right perspective. But that doesn’t mean we’re just for conservatives. We’re for anyone who’s searching for sanity in our polarized times, for anyone who wants to understand the complex issues facing our country. It’s why our staffers spend hours each week on the phone, on Capitol Hill, or traveling to other states to do reporting, not writing op-eds. It’s why our outside contributors are experts in foreign policy, defense policy, education, cybersecurity, economics, and more.

As readers, that may be one of the reasons you’re here. Or, maybe you’re intellectually curious with an appetite for good reporting and analysis. 

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Rachael Larimore is managing editor of The Dispatch and is based in the Cincinnati area. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served in similar roles at Slate, The Weekly Standard, and The Bulwark. She and her husband have three sons.