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School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Social-Emotional Learning Needs Funding Support Under ESSA

May 17, 2016 1 min read

To the Editor:

In rethinking the use of federal funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the state and district leaders referenced in an April 5 Politics K-12 blog post should support using federal dollars to fund social-emotional learning programming (“State Leaders Hear How to Rethink Their Use of Federal Funding Under ESSA”).

Social-emotional learning empowers students with skills to cultivate positive relationships, make good decisions, and manage their emotions. Not only are these skills fundamental to success in school and life; high-quality SEL programming also helps create positive learning environments that improve student learning. A 2011 meta-analysis of 213 SEL programs found that students participating in these programs showed improved social and emotional skills, improved behavior, and an 11-percentile-point gain in academic achievement.

As written, ESSA stipulates allowable uses of funds for several areas that correlate with SEL, including school climate, school safety, and positive-behavior-intervention support. In light of these correlations and the broader educational value that SEL programming provides to all students, it is critical that rulemakers specifically identify it as an allowable use of federal funds for both in- and out-of-school programming.

As we take these next steps forward and begin to shape the policies and regulations that will significantly impact districts, educators, and students, we must keep our attention directed toward what really matters in education: improving learning environments and providing all students with the opportunities they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Bridget Laird


WINGS for Kids

Charleston, S.C.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2016 edition of Education Week as Social-Emotional Learning Needs Funding Support Under ESSA


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