Congressional Briefing, New Bill on Social-Emotional Learning

What’s Happening

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) at 2014 Congressional Briefing

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA)

On April 30, 2014, Seattle-based Committee for Children and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) hosted a congressional briefing that focused on effective social-emotional learning (SEL) programs in all stages of the educational system from preschool through college. The well-attended briefing was titled “Social and Emotional Learning: Essential Skills for Success in School and Life.”

The speakers were Joan Duffell, executive director of Committee for Children; Maurice Elias, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Janice Deguchi, executive director of the Denise Louie Education Center and Head Start program in Seattle; and Keeth Matheny, a teacher at Austin (Texas) High School who offers a popular class titled “Methods for Academic and Personal Success.”

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) at 2014 Congressional Briefing

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH)

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-Calif.) gave the opening remarks. The day before the briefing Davis introduced a new bill, HR 4509, the Supporting Emotional Learning Act, to support SEL as part of the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act and the Higher Education Act, both bills before the House Education and the Workforce Committee.  Both Ryan and Davis emphasized the rationale for legislation they have sponsored to fund SEL teacher training, principal training, professional development, and further SEL research. Ryan is the lead sponsor of HR 1875, the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act of 2013.

Moderating the briefing was Timothy P. Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics and board chair of CASEL. Shriver said, “I have long believed that social and emotional learning is an essential part of the educational process. Our hope is that it will result in better support for SEL instruction in schools all over the U.S.” Shriver noted that “Fundamentally, teaching and learning is a relationship.” According to Shriver, instruction in the five domains of SEL—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making—creates a common framework across multiple domains to support success in school and life for all students. 

Tim Shriver at 2014 Congressional Briefing

Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympic; Board Chair, CASEL (D-OH)

Deguchi and Matheny pointed to examples of SEL strategies from their work that led to dramatically improved learning both in early education and in high school. Elias said that explicit instruction in SEL at all grade levels is as necessary as high academic standards. He added that students who pass state accountability assessments are not guaranteed to be successful in the complex world of employment where the ability to collaborate, solve problems, and persist in the face of challenges are so valued by employers.

Deguchi and Matheny pointed to examples of SEL strategies from their work that led to dramatically improved learning both in early education and in high school. Elias said that explicit instruction in SEL at all grade levels is as necessary as high academic standards. He added that students who pass state accountability assessments are not guaranteed to be successful in the complex world of employment where the ability to collaborate, solve problems, and persist in the face of challenges are so valued by employers.

(originally published by CASEL, edited by and for Committee for Children)

Janice Deguchi at 2014 Congressional Briefing

Janice Deguchi, Denise Louie Education Center & Head Start Program

R Keeth Matheny at 2014 Congressional Briefing

R “Keeth” Matheny, Teacher, Austin High School; Methods for Academic and Personal Success (MAPS); Austin Independent School District Adjunct Instructional Coach

Maurice Elias at 2014 Congressional Briefing

Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department and Edutopia Blogger