Committee for Children Blog

Unprecedented National Gains for Social-Emotional Learning for Both Teachers and Students

Congress is in the thick of federal appropriations season, which means they’re deciding what they do and don’t deem important for our nation’s budget. Now more than ever before in US history, Congress is prioritizing social-emotional learning (SEL) for both students and teachers.

In May, the US House Appropriations Committee included an unprecedented $260 million for SEL as part of the 2020 federal education bill. The funds would support:

  • A new grant program to research students’ SEL needs ($170 million)
  • Teacher professional development ($25 million)
  • A competitive grant to help school districts increase the number of mental health professionals in schools ($25 million)
  • Support for community schools ($40 million)

There’s still a long way to go in budget negotiations, but this strong starting point for federal SEL investments is encouraging.

SEL Congressional Visit

SEL leaders, including Committee for Children, have been an active force in this effort. Three months before the House Appropriations Committee decision, a team of SEL leaders traveled to Washington, DC, to advocate for the well-being of teachers and students alike. They conducted a briefing to Congress, followed by a series of meetings with select members of Congress to discuss the value of SEL in schools.

Briefing: The Importance of Infusing Teacher Preparation with SEL

During their visit, Committee for Children co-led a congressional briefing with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Both nonprofits focused on the need to infuse teacher preparation programs with greater focus on social-emotional learning. Why? Because not only is SEL integral to student learning—it also helps teachers manage and reduce their own stress.

Please watch and share the highlight video of that powerful briefing. Tim Shriver, cofounder and board chairperson of CASEL, led the presentation with a panel of experts:

  • Dr. Scott Brabrand, superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
  • Dr. Wendy Burke, director of student teaching, Eastern Michigan University, MI
  • Dr. Mylien Duong, senior research scientist, Committee for Children, WA
  • Ray Lozano, executive director of student and family empowerment, El Paso Independent School District, TX
  • Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, director, Human Early Learning Partnership, University of British Columbia, BC

Conversation: The Need for Teacher and Educator Social-Emotional Learning

During that trip, Committee for Children and CASEL also met with lead members of Congress to discuss the inclusion of teacher prep policies in their negotiation of the Higher Education Act reauthorization. There have been recent advances in teacher training programs, to be sure. But they aren’t yet doing enough to prepare teachers to understand and model the social-emotional competencies students will need in adapting to twenty-first-century life. Learn more about how SEL can improve teacher education.

How to Stay Current on Education Legislation

As these policies move along in the process of becoming legislation, you can sign up to advocate for social-emotional learning with Committee for Children now and in the future. And learn more about how Committee for Children advocates for children’s social-emotional well-being and safety nationally, regionally, and locally.