A South Florida congresswoman is pairing up with a presidential candidate on a bill to help social and emotional learning (SEL) in classrooms.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., paired up with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, on the “Social and Emotional Learning for Families (SELF) Act.” Ryan introduced the bill at the start of last week and he and Mucarsel-Powell weighed in on the bill on Friday.
The bill would create a grant program “to increase the capacity of teachers and school leaders to work with families to develop and support the social and emotional skills, habits, and mindsets of children.”
Ryan is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination but he has not garnered much traction, pulling 1 percent or less in most polls.
“Social and emotional skills are essential for students’ healthy functioning and positive academic outcomes,” said Ryan. “Social and emotional learning has proven to help increase attendance, decrease suspensions and behavioral incidences, and improve attention and participation among students. The growth of our students cannot be achieved without the participation of our educators, school staff, and families. It’s why Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell and I have introduced the SELF Act which promotes and encourages collaboration between schools and parents around the development of their students’ social and emotional skills.”
“To have a strong workforce in the future, we must ensure our children receive a quality education now,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Today’s students face enormous pressures, from high expectations, to isolation, bullying, and social media overexposure. Social and emotional learning provides children and their families with the necessary tools to develop the awareness and responsible decision-making skills to meet today’s social challenges, setting students up for success in the classroom and outside of it, too. School safety has never been more important, so the self-awareness and self-management skills gained from SEL are crucial for establishing safe and healthy learning environments. I’m proud to join Rep. Tim Ryan in introducing the SELF Act and to provide students and their families with skills to improve their educational experience today.”
Ryan’s office offered some of the rationale behind the proposed grants which would be issued by the U.S. Education secretary. While the bill does not fund the grants, it limits the number of grants to 100 of them and none of them can exceed $1.2 million.
“Studies have shown that schools implementing SEL practices see improvements in academic performance and classroom behavior. But additional research shows that these school-based programs are even more effective when they are supported by parent and family involvement. This legislation emphasizes the role parents can play in helping children learn social and emotional skills, habits, and mindsets,” Ryan’s office noted.
“Social and emotional learning is a continuous process that involves students, families, teachers, and communities to succeed. The SELF Act recognizes the importance of family engagement and provides resources for teachers and school leaders to improve family-school partnerships and collaborative efforts on student social and emotional knowledge, skills and competencies. These collaborations ensure that SEL is part of a foundational, whole child and family approach that promotes student social, emotional, and academic development at school and at home,” said Nick Yoder, the director of policy and practice for the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee last week. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.