Congressman Tim Ryan Urges Education Secretary Duncan to Implement SEL Programs in School Curriculums | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Congressman Tim Ryan Urges Education Secretary Duncan to Implement SEL Programs in School Curriculums

February 27, 2013
Press Release


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Congressman Tim Ryan joined eight other Members of Congress in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding the importance of implementing Social and Emotional Learning programs in new department educational initiatives. Through statistical evidence and proven results, Congressman Ryan showed how SEL programs improve student success in the classroom, while reducing inappropriate classroom behavior and other student stressors. The letter called on Secretary Duncan to seriously consider the educational future of America’s children when implementing educational policies. The text of the letter is below:

The original letter can be found here, or the text can be found below: 

February 27, 2013

Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

RE: Social Emotional Learning

Dear Secretary Duncan:

We applaud the Department of Education’s renewed emphasis on early childhood education and school safety.  As you begin work to create a comprehensive plan to improve school climates, we believe we have a unique opportunity to improve our children’s school environment by including Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in the proposal.

As you know, SEL is an established form of learning that promotes the development of core personal competencies:

Self-awareness-- knowing your strengths and weaknesses

Self-management-- being able to stay in control and persevere through challenges

Social awareness-- understanding and empathizing with others

Relationship skills-- being able to work in teams and resolve conflicts

Responsible decision making-- making ethical and safe choices

A landmark meta-analysis of 213 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. In addition, studies show SEL programs help positively impact issues that inhibit students’ ability to learn, be healthy, and be safe. Namely, SEL programs curb problem behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use, truancy, violence among students, and bullying. They also work to reduce students’ emotional stress and anxiety,

We were encouraged by the recent recommendations by the White House to create safer and more nurturing school atmospheres by proposing a new $50 million initiative to help 8,000 more schools train their teachers and other staff to implement these strategies to improve student behavior. We believe SEL programs would be an ideal component in these efforts to help continue the commitment of the federal government to improve our school environments while emphasizing the importance of teaching our children the social and emotional skills necessary for college and career success.

In addition, the White House’s recommendations emphasized that “exposure to community violence can impact children’s mental health and development,” and called for $25 million to improve mental health services. SEL programs have been shown to have a very positive impact on improving the mental health of both students and teachers. SEL programs teach students how to manage stress and strengthen their emotional response. We believe that social and emotional learning is not a luxury in our schools; it is essential.

As the Department of Education begins to respond to the White House’s recommendations to improve school climate and students’ mental health services, we urge you to take a closer look at the positive impact social and emotional learning can provide to school districts and communities around the country.

Thank you for consideration of this important issue, and we look forward to working with you and learning how the Department of Education intends to use SEL to improve school environments. 


Congressman Tim Ryan

Congressman Charlie Rangel

Congressman Michael Honda

Congresswoman Julia Brownley

Congressman Matt Cartwright

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Congressman James Langevin

Congressman Jim McDermott

Congressman Joseph Kennedy

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