Under the very first section of the Granville County Board of Education Policy 1100 — Governing Principles, exists this statement: “As its top priority, a system of excellent schools provides opportunities for individual students to succeed and overall student performance to improve.”

Additional policies go on to further define this top priority through the teaching of the N.C. Standard Course of Study, as approved by the State Board of Education. These academic standards outline exactly what students should know and be able to do as a result of the instruction provided by our highly qualified educators using an approved curriculum.

In essence, these standards serve as the expectations and guidelines for what is taught in our schools, with an obvious emphasis on literacy, mathematics, the sciences and social studies. Additional supplemental instruction is provided through enhancement content areas such as the arts, career and technical education, technology, world language and physical education. Further support is provided through services to special populations of students, including the Exceptional Children’s Program, Academically and Intellectually Gifted Program, and the English as a Second Language program.

GCPS does not ascribe to teaching divisive, subversive or socially controversial content. The district does not teach Critical Race Theory, nor does GCPS local curricula and the N.C. Standards for Social Studies reference or promote any such topics or content. The social studies standards and curriculum instead focus on factually-based content derived from the fields of history, geography and political science, with particular focus on our great country and its unique role in the world.

Furthermore, GCPS does not seek to obscure or disguise what is taught in our classrooms. In fact, the opposite is true. We now have a central locally-created website, at https://sites.google.com/gcs.k12.nc.us/parentgcpsfocus/the-gcps-focus, that contains references to all state standards, curriculum guides and curriculum resources. These are all available for review by any member of the public. In addition, we have all book titles cataloged in a central database, at http://destiny.gcs.k12.nc.us, which is available for any member of the public to review. Also, parents have the freedom to access or request the review of any instructional materials used in any classroom in the district.

Simply put, we are an open book, and what we teach to our children is transparently open for review by anyone.

Recently, increased attention has been brought to bear on the topic of mental health and well-being. In educational settings, this is often sometimes related to an acronym referred to as “SEL,” or “Social Emotional Learning.” While educators are fond of acronyms, SEL simply refers to our efforts to promote and support our students’ mental health and well-being. It is not an effort to promote any political viewpoints or ideological stances.

Instead, it is simply teaching specific skills, such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making to help students stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

We understand that controversy sometimes surrounds these topics and are often included in many media reports and social media postings. We also understand the sensitivity and concern that families have about how our schools are teaching our students.

However, rest assured, that in GCPS, we focus on the fundamental skills of reading, writing and math in our core disciplines. We also focus on our students’ physical and mental health and well-being while they are in our care. Beyond that, we defer to our families when making important decisions about their personal values, beliefs and ethics, all in order to enjoy the individual freedoms and liberties which our great country provides.

Stan Winborne is associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and student services for the Granville County Public Schools.