Congressional Briefing–April 30, 2014

CASEL and Committee for Children Organize Congressional Briefing as a New Bill Is Introduced to Support Social and Emotional Learning

U.S. Rep. Susan Davis describes her new bill, HR 4509, at the April 30 briefing. U.S. Rep. Susan Davis describes her new bill, HR 4509, at the April 30 briefing.

On April 30, 2014, CASEL and Seattle-based Committee for Children hosted a congressional briefing that focused on effective social-emotional learning 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, Wash.; and Keeth Matheny, a teacher at Austin (Texas) High School who offers a popular class titled “Methods for Academic and Personal Success.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, the original sponsor of the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act of 2013 (HR 1875). U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, the original sponsor of the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act of 2013 (HR 1875).

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, to support social and emotional learning 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. Click here to learn more about the bill, including action steps to support it. 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. Moderating today’s panel was an honor, and 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.

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.

Click here to view a video of the briefing (34 min).

To view individual video segments from the briefing click here.