Congressman Tim Ryan Applauds Senator Blumenthal (D-Conn) for Introducing Senate SEL Companion Legislation

Apr 14, 2015 Issues: Education

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan applauds U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) for introducing the Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators Act to provide teachers powerful tools and training to support students’ social and emotional learning (SEL). The bill is named in honor of Jesse Lewis, who at six years old was tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This is the Senate companion legislation for Congressman Ryan’s Academic , Social and Emotional Learning Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in February of this year.

This legislation would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so that existing professional development funding could be used to train teachers in concepts related to social and emotional learning.

“In the wake of personal and national tragedy, Scarlett Lewis looked to the future and began the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to promote social and emotional learning in schools across the nation. As a father, I understand that our number one priority should be that every child feels safe and secure in school and at home. Social and emotional learning teaches students skills that will help on both fronts,” said Congressman Ryan. “I have seen firsthand what teaching SEL can do for students and their classrooms in Ohio and across the nation. These programs are scientifically proven to help students increase skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution, responsible decision-making and relationship building – these are the tools that will build the foundation for students to perform better academically and throughout their lives. Now is the time to promote programs that create a safer and more secure school culture in America.”

"My personal commitment to this vital initiative grew from the horrific, painful days after Sandy Hook, when I sat in Scarlett Lewis’ living room and heard and saw Jesse's awe-inspiring courage and caring through his words and photos. Jesse had emotional intelligence way beyond his years-- gifts of empathy, resilience, self-awareness, confidence and compassion, love and hope-- which we can instill in students nationwide if teachers are given the right tools and training. Countless studies and common sense show that children who learn to manage their emotions, play and interact positively with their peers, and constructively resolve conflicts are less likely to resort to bullying, physical violence and self-destructive behavior, and also perform better academically. In honor of Jesse, and the 25 other beautiful children and talented educators lost at Sandy Hook, this bill provides teachers skills and support to help all students grow into strong and healthy members of society. Qualities of courage and resilience shown by Jesse and other Sandy Hook heroes will help inspire lesson plans for emotional intelligence and personal strength,” said Senator Blumenthal.

"We all have to take responsibility for the education and wellbeing of our children. The Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators Act introduces a powerful initiative that will benefit our children physically, mentally and emotionally as well as the future of our country,” said Scarlett Lewis.

Since her son's death, Scarlett Lewis has founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation, and has become one of the nation's leading advocates for social and emotional learning.