Math textbook backlash for social-emotional learning

Published: July 11, 2022 4:59 PM EDT
Updated: July 11, 2022 7:33 PM EDT

A math textbook using social-emotional learning from Kindergarten through fifth grade is getting pushback by a small group in Collier County.

The Collier County School District Board approved the books in question Monday afternoon. In a statement made by the board on Monday, they 100% stand by their textbooks.

A question on page 211 of a McGraw Hill fourth grade math textbook reads, “What can you do today to help build a relationship with a classmate?”

Gayle Repetto from Collier County doesn’t like this or some others in the textbook. “They have different areas of respect and community culture and working together in a safe environment,” Repetto said. “And that really doesn’t have anything to do with math.”

Textbook
Some of the math textbooks that some people don’t like. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“Math doesn’t have anything to do with respect for others, community culture, how we can work together,” Repetto said.

Preventing violence in schools could start with questions about feelings in math class, argued Collier County School Board member Erick Carter. “We have to find a place to start asking these questions! And, if we don’t, we are not going to solve the violent problem we have going on and our emotional issues that we’re having with our children these questions have to be asked,” Carter said.

School staff said the only emotions the ‘McGraw Hill’ books ask kids to discuss have to do with the lessons. Also, the school staff said the books contain no errors or biases.

H Michael Mogil is a math tutor, and he said the books are no good. In addition, they overrepresent girls and kids of color. “If you want to turn kids off to math and you don’t want them to succeed in math in high school then buy these books right now,” Mogil said.

An objection made by Sandra Doyle was centered around social-emotional learning. “These books still contain SEL and need to be rejected outright or undergo major corrections,” Doyle said.

Sammi Treglown has two K through fifth-grade kids and has no problem with her kids talking about emotions in math. “Yeah, I think it’s necessary to have these,” Treglown said. “You know, conversations about how what’s going on in the world and how it should affect you or how it does affects you and, you know, bring this to awareness to young kids is important, even at a very basic level.”

Textbook
Group of students learning together. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“Typically, there are, you know, prompts or things that bring out something emotional,” Treglown said. “Whether it’s like whatever topic they’re talking about, or just in general, you know, math’s not my favorite but maybe it would evoke a different emotion for some kids.”

A mom who preferred to remain anonymous said, “One of the objections was ‘what help do you want to do your work?’,” she said. “I personally want K through 5th graders to be able to ask and have their teachers better understand how to help them and learn so I really appreciate that these things are in our math books.”

Collier schools staff said these books meet the standards. They challenge kids to connect math to their own life. Doing something called ‘self-monitoring’ which has to do with examining their own feelings and thoughts. This, staff says, is not social-emotional learning.