Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Banning SEL Puts Students at Risk

May 31, 2022 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

As I hear about the bans on social-emotional-learning curricula, I find myself wondering if those trying to ban it understand what SEL is (“Florida Officials Reject Long List of Math Resources, Citing References to Critical Race Theory and SEL,” EdWeek Market Brief, April 18, 2022)? Do they realize it was created by a long line of scientists and researchers more than 30 years ago? Do they know that what they are trying to ban is content that many of my teacher colleagues and I consider fundamental to helping develop well-rounded students?

Parents and educators who understand SEL find it hard to see how anyone could argue that SEL doesn’t belong in school lessons.

Yet, here we are.

The arguments against SEL are based on misconceptions, and schools can address that by being transparent about what SEL is. Parents also must educate themselves, and teachers must feel empowered to share examples of how SEL helps with classroom behaviors and overall classroom management.

Students face unparalleled challenges and have record-high levels of mental health issues to the point where medical professionals across the nation are sounding an alarm that children are in an unparalleled mental health crisis. A recent Navigate360 and John Zogby Strategies poll shows that 57.3 percent of teens are interested in educational content or short courses to help manage stress and anxiety, and 55.1 percent want part of their curriculum to be spent learning about and working on their social-emotional well-being.

Bans on SEL curricula put our students at risk, both now and in the future. We’re removing critical supports at a time they need them the most, and I worry about the long-term consequences of these shortsighted bans.

Let’s prioritize holistic safety and wellness solutions for schools, empower educators to continue to use proven techniques backed by decades of research, and focus on reaffirming our shared values around what children need to become well-rounded adults.

Melissa Ragan
Chief Learning Officer
Farmington, Maine

A version of this article appeared in the June 01, 2022 edition of Education Week as Banning SEL Puts Students at Risk


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum How Florida's New School Librarian Training Defines Off-Limits Materials
School librarians will soon have to seek parent approval to order new books, and have to avoid books considered "indoctrination."
3 min read
Books line shelves in a high school library Monday, October 1, 2018, in Brownsville, Texas. The Brownsville Independent School District announced having been awarded a multi-million-dollar grant to revitalize libraries to encourage reading by school-aged children to improve literacy skills. It was stated in the meeting that money could also be used to replace aging furniture in some of the district's libraries.
Books line shelves in a high school library in Brownsville, Texas in 2018. In Florida, school librarians will be required to complete training this year that will include how to seek parent approval before they can purchase new books for school libraries and classrooms.
Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP
Curriculum What the Research Says How an Attention-Training Program Can Make Teens Better Drivers
A driving simulation created to tune up attention skills in young drivers with ADD could have wider benefits.
6 min read
Driver Training Simulator
A student uses a driving trainer simulator to sharpen attention skills.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Curriculum Q&A You Can Teach About Climate Change in Every Subject and Grade Level. Here's How
Math, foreign language, even art classes offer opportunities to build students' knowledge.
8 min read
Tree growing from a book with education icons floating above, focusing on climate change and curriculum
Curriculum Media Literacy in Schools: 7 Ways the Subject Has Evolved
A handy guide about media literacy to get up to speed on the topic.
3 min read
Photo of computer and newspapers.
iStock / Getty Images Plus