Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act

May 8, 2013 Issues: Education

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan introduced today the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act, amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow funding for teacher and principal training and professional development to be used for social and emotional learning programming. Joining Congressman Ryan as original cosponsors are Congressman Dave Loebsack, Congressman Tom Petri and Congressman Matt Cartwright.                                 

According to a 2009 report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), students who feel more connected to school are more likely to have positive health and education outcomes. To accomplish this goal, the CDC recommends that schools “provide students with the academic, emotional, and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.” Students who exhibit these skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, responsible decision-making and relationship building, not only perform better academically, but are far less likely to engage in problem behavior like alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying.

“I have already seen what teaching social and emotional learning skills can do for a student and their classroom,” said Congressman Ryan. “Teaching social and emotional learning skills is based on the latest science and research, and schools in my congressional district are already improving because of social and emotional learning programs. Social and emotional competencies are absolutely essential skills—the foundation for all the other skills young people need to be successful in school and in life.”

Congressman Tom Petri added, “A well-rounded education means more than just learning math and writing skills—though those are certainly important.  But it’s been proven that interactive projects that improve a student’s communication, emotional, and social skills create more successful employees, community leaders, and productive members of society.  Our bill will prepare teachers with the background and skills they need to enhance their students’ education.”

Congressman Dave Loebsack added, “Having taught in a classroom, I know that many factors contribute to students’ academic success and preparation to secure good jobs, which is why we need to focus on the needs of the “whole child.” Ensuring students have the social and emotional capabilities to problem-solve and work in group settings prepares them for 21st century jobs and ensure they are able to handle every-day stresses that may otherwise make learning difficult.  It is important that teachers are properly trained in how to foster these skills in students to set them on a path for long-term success. I look forward to working with Representatives Ryan and Petri on this important legislation.”

“School districts nationwide are beginning to take action on decades of research that says social and emotional learning promotes positive behaviors and learning environments as well as better academic achievement,” said Roger P. Weissberg, Ph D, one of the nation’s preeminent scholars in the field of social and emotional learning. Weissberg is President and CEO of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This legislation would go a long way in supporting teachers in making social and emotional learning an essential ingredient in their teaching and a core part of education in this country.”

 A landmark meta-analysis of 213 social and emotional learning (SEL) programs with a combined sample of more than 270,000 students clearly established the effectiveness of SEL programs across a number of areas critical to the success of students. Students scored 11 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests, a significant improvement relative to peers not receiving SEL programming. Students also exhibited more pro-social behavior, fewer problem behaviors, and less emotional stress. The Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act builds on this report and a large body of research proving that social and emotional programming has a positive impact on student learning.

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Pat Lowry
Communications Director
Congressman Tim Ryan
241 W. Federal Street
Youngstown, OH 44503
P: (330) 740-0193 (Youngstown)
P: (202) 225-5261 (Washington, D.C.)
C: (330) 717-8103