Parents of Loudon County public school students have been told they must sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to view a curriculum connected to a group that promotes critical race theory (CRT) in schools.
Parents must sign the NDA to review the curriculum, called “Second Step.” By signing the NDA, parents acknowledge that reviewing the material is “not a public event” and that “copying, broadcast or recording of any kind is prohibited.”
The curriculum is part of a series on “Social Emotional Learning” from the Committee for Children, a nonprofit group focused on anti-bias and anti-racism resources.
The organization seeks to promote the development of self-control and interpersonal skills as part of “social, emotional learning.”
The Second Step website encompasses material on anti-bias and anti-racism while stating it is “committed to addressing racial injustice and helping you drive real change in your school communities.”
The website also says the purpose of their resources is to “implement social-emotional learning in a way that builds on students’ cultural assets, critically examines systems of power, and develops better ways of teaching, learning and being.”
A small snapshot of the curriculum is available on the LCPS website. However, only a few slides of the curriculum are available on the website.
According to the agreement between Second Step and the school district exempts the curriculum from Virginia Freedom of Information Act requests. The district spent about $7,700 to become a “licensed user” of the Second Step program.
“Eligible parents” at LCPS must sign the document to be able to view the curriculum. According to the district and copyright laws of the organization, districts can only give curriculum presentations in person. Parents cannot download, broadcast, record, or photograph “in any manner whatsoever.”
The NDA that parents must sign reads, “I understand that the Authorized Presentation of Second Step Materials I am about to view is not a public event and that copying, broadcast, or recording of any kind is not permitted. I agree to comply with the terms of the above Special License,” reads the text.
According to Scott Mineo of Loudon County Parents Against Critical Theory (PACT) organization, the copyright laws seem suspicious since similar curriculum packages are readily available for parents to access.
“LCPS is partners with Southern Poverty Law Center, Racial Equity Tools, and Learning for Justice (SPLC), all of which have copyrighted material, however, LCPS freely provides access to these materials,” said Mineo.
“Why is there such a double standard when parents want to review Second Step SEL material in its entirety?”
Second Step’s program targets the concept of “social-emotional learning,” which is closely linked to the core principles of critical race theory.
According to the Committee for Children, social-emotional learning is “fundamental to achieving social justice.”
According to a recently released PowerPoint from LCPS, all elementary schools in the district will be required to implement the curriculum in the classroom by 2022.
The Virginia Department of Education has also been working to implement the curriculum state-wide.
The Second Step curriculum is used in numerous other districts across the nation, including Chicago, Illinois, Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Lexington, Kentucky, and others.
Parents in Loudon County worry that the program places more emphasis on students’ ethical, emotional, and moral development than their academic success.
Teacher Sam Crowly who resigned his position as a music teacher at Draper Park Middle School in Utah, said in his resignation that he could not “in good conscience” teach material that “teaches students that their parents are ‘roadblocks’ to their goals; material which contains propaganda and encourages students to become activists.”