“What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is ONE RIGHT WAY to proceed with growing up.”

John Taylor Gatto



CASEL’s mission is to gather personal information about students’ emotional behavior, and turn emotion into a standard to rank and measure children.

Cheri Kiesecker, Missouri Dog

In previous articles and posts, I have written about the next new thing in public education, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and the implications of it when financial enterprises and outside philanthropists get involved and steer it into our classrooms.

For information on the subject of Social Emotional Learning see How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?, The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: Part 1, What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?, The endgame of corporate reform in public school education, Part 2 : Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and the Federal Government, The Endgame of Corporate Reform, Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense and McD Happy Meal schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull.

One of the engines in this drive to evaluate and track a child’s emotions and thoughts while using a computer is Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

In 2009, CASEL hosted a forum titled Social and Emotional Learning: Ready! Creating a National Initiative which described their plan to have Social Emotional Learning instituted within public education across the country.

CASEL began by attempting a collaboration with eight states  on testing programs that would evaluate a student’s emotions using various methods. Eight states were proudly listed as being a part of this grand experiment, then seven were listed, then six and now no states are mentioned on the website. To the best of our research and knowledge, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Colorado have extracted themselves from this project.

Washington State and California are both still part of the CASEL project along with possibly Massachusetts and Nevada.

California has now gone so far as to begin to test for Social Emotional Learning and use it as an academic measure in a student’s performance and possibly the teacher’s performance.

One of the people behind the scenes who is driving this quest for information regarding a student’s emotional state is Bill Gates. Mr. Gates was an early contributor to CASEL and funded a report on assessment measures for Social Emotional Learning.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued a report in September, 2016 titled Postsecondary Success Advocacy Priorities and on Page 4:

Data and Information


Support the development of a comprehensive national data infrastructure that enables the secure and consistent collection and reporting of key performance metrics for all students in all institutions. These data are essential for supporting the change needed to close persistent attainment gaps and produce an educated and diverse workforce with career-relevant credentials for the 21st century.

Gates also funded Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social Emotional and Academic Development.



From Education Week on September 20, 2016

The commission will ultimately produce a report in late 2018 with recommendations that states, districts and schools can take to develop students’ social and emotional learning and measure it in a way that produces valid results. In the two years leading up to the report, the commissioners will hold field hearings, visit schools and talk to parents, students and teachers across the country. The commission’s first meeting will be held this November.

What that means is schools in the original eight CASEL states were to be used as a proving ground for this idea of social emotional learning, show how student data can be tracked and used as a well as a way to promote its success, such as that might be, but without financial support to the states although CASEL is racking in the dough.

As is stated on the CASEL website:

SEL Research 

Advancing the scientific base for social and emotional learning (SEL) through research has been the hallmark of CASEL’s work since our founding. We do that by synthesizing the research of others, conducting original research, and spotlighting recent research from our colleagues and collaborators.

At this point, I think you can begin to see how this will unfold. Between DeVos’ lust for online learning, at least for other peoples’ children, and her penchant for the Common Core Standards with packaged lessons and integrated assessments plugged into a Chromebook along with Gates’ push for Social Emotional Learning via CASEL, starting in preschool, and assessments of a child’s psychological makeup, tracked and stored, you have students who are programmed without much opportunity for developing real 21st century skills which include collaboration, teamwork, creativity, imagination, critical thinking, problem solving, cultural awareness, leadership, civic literacy, oral communication skills, social responsibility and ethics.

Those qualities will be developed by students in private schools.

Now CASEL is in Washington State and provided assistance in writing a report that is located on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) website.

CASEL was influential in Oakland by setting up Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as part of the academic program and integrated software placed on all Chromebooks that were handed out to all students in the Oakland Public School district.

As I wrote in The endgame of corporate reform in public school education, Part 2 : Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and the Federal Government:

Along with online learning that was put into place by John Krull, who at the time was the Chief Technology Officer at Oakland Public Schools and is now the Chief Information Officer within Seattle Public Schools, another program was put into place in Oakland public schools with the assistance of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The idea of Social and Emotional Learning is teaching “mindfulness” which is a difficult state to be in if you’re hungry because they is no food at home or you’re sick and can’t see a doctor but issues of poverty are not part of this equation. This SEL program is sold as being an integral part of the “successful implementation of the Common Core”.

The student is evaluated on their emotional state by teachers or other school staff using a rating scale. This is comparable to psychological testing but done by untrained personnel rather than trained psychologists. The evaluation becomes part of a student’s record and because it is an educational record rather than a medical record, there is no privacy as provided by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Whether a child has “anger management problems” or finds it difficult to focus, both of which could be situational, the information is tracked from preschool to the age of 20. The tracking of student information is often referred to as “P20”.

CASEL has assisted OSPI with writing a report on SEL and is determining a set of standards for Social Emotional Learning for every grade level.

Student Privacy

With the weakening of FERPA by the Obama administration, any third party with an “interest” in education is privy to student information.

So far, no form has been provided to parents informing them that student information will be collected, who will be looking at the information and how it will be distributed.

As Politico points out in an article titled The big biz of spying on little kids:

A POLITICO examination of hundreds of pages of privacy policies, terms of service and district contracts — as well as interviews with dozens of industry and legal experts — finds gaping holes in the protection of children’s privacy.  

The amount of data being collected is staggering. Ed tech companies of all sizes, from basement startups to global conglomerates, have jumped into the game. The most adept are scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day. That’s orders of magnitude more data than Netflix or Facebook or even Google collect on their users.

Students are tracked as they play online games, watch videos, read books, take quizzes and run laps in physical education. The monitoring continues as they work on assignments from home, with companies logging children’s locations, homework schedules, Web browsing habits and, of course, their academic progress.

And from From Diane Ravitch’s post, What You Need to Know About Your Children’s Privacy Rights:

In 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties, including private companies, increased access to student data. It is significant that in 2008, the amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of “school officials” who have access to student data to include “contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties to whom an educational agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform.” This change has the effect of increasing the market for student data.

Closer to home in Seattle, student information was placed in the hands of a marketing company. See: Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

Buyer Beware

Business enterprises are getting their foot in the door any way they can and now they see an opening with the latest ed fad, Social Emotional Learning.

As a parent, I suggest two things:

  • Find out how much time your student is on a computer at school and if there is any plan for additional use of a computer.
  • Ask your principal if there is a handout providing information on what student information is collected on your student of any sort and who has access to it. If there is no handout, demand one.

As Cheri Kiesecker wrote in her article SEL Commission and Measuring Emotional Standards in Schools:

Do you want every behavior, perceived imperfection, private thought, every emotion of your child cataloged and profiled, tracked, shared and GRADED? Or are you more like this grandfather who has had enough of the measuring, when he writes, Keep Your Metrics Off My Grand-daughter?

Dora Taylor

Recommended reads:

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Internet Companies: Confusing Consumers for Profit

SEL Commission & Measuring Emotional Standards in Schools

The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates, a national data bank, Wireless Gen…and FERPA?