Committee for Children Blog

Inclusion of SEL in the Reauthorization of the ESEA:


Do you believe students need to learn how to persevere in the face of challenges and develop lifelong skills to cope with life's challenges? Do you believe students need support in becoming safe, caring, respectful, and responsible members of the community? Have you benefited from increased classroom instructional time because of less time spent helping students who cannot independently manage difficult or emotionally charged situations? Do you wish you had more resources to support these needs in your school or district? If so, keep reading…

This is a critical time for SEL. America's education statistics in many areas are dire. For example, we have the lowest college completion rate in the developed world. Research shows that getting the best outcomes for students requires building skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. These teachable skills promote healthy behaviors and are related to improved climate and attitudes about self and others, improved behavior and achievement test scores, and decreased anxiety and depression. Yet few schools and districts have the resources to support SEL for students. With current bipartisan support for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization in the Senate HELP committee, it is an important moment to champion the inclusion of SEL when the full Senate debates the bill in June.

Last week, I joined a group of SEL advocates from Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Florida in Washington DC to talk with our state senators about the importance of SEL for lifelong success, in school, work and life. We represented many roles: nurse, school psychologist and research coordinator, counselor, Head Start education manager, teacher, assistant principal, and director of social and emotional learning. Those roles involve supporting SEL in many ways, from direct SEL program implementation to providing the systems and structures for teaching these skills to all students.

While in our meetings, we shared that Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is planning to offer an amendment to ESEA that would define SEL and allow funding for teacher and principal training to be used for SEL programming. We also shared potential language about the importance of SEL for the committee report that accompanies the ESEA bill.

During our time with key members of both the House and Senate Education Committees, we also referred to The Missing Piece , a report of results from a national teacher survey on how social-emotional learning can empower children and transform schools. This report shows that teachers understand the value of and endorse SEL for all students and believe SEL helps students achieve in school and life. If you agree, take this opportunity to let your representatives in the House and Senate know how SEL is helping the students in your school, district, and state. Click on this link to send a letter to your Congressman/Congresswoman. Spread the word. Share it on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and tell your colleagues.