U.S. Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) today introduced legislation to help students excel in the classroom by improving social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. The Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act (H.R. 2437) will expand the availability of programs that teach skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, responsible decision-making and relationship building. Research confirms that SEL programs improve academic performance and help reduce problem behavior such as alcohol and drug use, truancy, violence among students, and bullying.
"There are so many bright students struggling to reach their full potential because they don't have the interpersonal and communication skills they need to excel, or they face daily struggles with bullying in school," said Biggert, a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "This legislation will help teachers provide result-driven instruction in skills that keep children focused on learning and prepare them to succeed in the real world. I'd like to thank Congressmen Kildee and Ryan for working with me to give our students the best educational experience possible."
"In today's increasingly competitive economy, our children deserve more than an academically challenging environment -- they need the 21st century skills of creative thinking and problem solving," said Kildee."That is why I joined my colleagues to introduce the Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act. By making social and emotional learning part of every child's education, we are giving the next generation the skills they need for productive and confident lives."
The Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act builds on recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) on how parents, teachers, and school staff can foster social learning environments that facilitate healthy development and discourage high-risk behavior.
"Social and emotional learning is not a luxury in our schools, it is essential," said Ryan. "The overwhelming level of information and pressure coming at our children is unlike any time in our country's history. The Academic, Social and Emotional Learning Act will help give them the tools they need to swim in the tumultuous waters of the 21st century."
Specifically, the Act will expand social and emotional learning programming in elementary and secondary schools by amending Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow funding for teacher and principal training to be used for SEL programming. The legislation also establishes a federal definition of social and emotional learning to include skills such as self-motivation, goal setting, conflict management, situational analysis, negotiation, stress management, and emotional recognition.
Roger P. Weissberg, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), said he is encouraged by the new legislation. "We are thrilled with the leadership of Representatives Biggert, Kildee, and Ryan to provide evidence-based programming that promotes the social and emotional development of all students."