CASEL welcomes prospect of US “game changer”

CASEL welcomes prospect of US “game changer”
17 December 2009

The cause of social and emotional learning programs in the US has been given a strong fillip, this week, by the introduction of bipartisan proposals for federal legislation.

Passage of the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Act would allow the US Department of Education powers to establish programs and allocate grants across a range of developmental and evaluation activity.

By effectively making social and emotional learning a national priority, it would also provide technical assistance to states, school districts and community-based organizations, as well as encouraging them to compete for grants and to be involved in an independent evaluation of the impact of funded programs on student achievement, attainment and behavioral outcomes.

Unveiling the Bill this week Democratic congressman Dale Kildee, who chairs the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, said that in “an increasingly competitive economy,” children deserved more than an academically challenging environment. “They need the 21st century skills of creative thinking and problem solving.”

The proposed legislation was building on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that families, schools and communities all needed to work together to create an environment that facilitated healthy child development.

“By making social and emotional leaning part of every child’s education, we are giving the next generation the skills they need for productive and confident lives,” Kildee added.

“If we want to push academic performance to the next level, we need to educate the whole child,” said Representative Tim Ryan, an original co-sponsor who serves on the House Appropriation Committee. “That means teaching kids how to handle their emotions and build productive relationships. It’s one of the most significant things we can do to support them. I wish SEL was in schools when I was growing up.”

One of the key players is the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the brainchild of Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman and philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald.

When the proposed measures were announced at “Social and Emotional Learning – Ready!” a CASEL leadership forum, Board chairman Timothy Shriver said, “This legislation is a game-changer”.

CASEL’s president and scientific adviser is Roger Weissberg, LAS Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It’s exciting that these respected lawmakers have introduced public policy that expands research-based programming,” he said.

Weissberg is one of a number of US prevention scientists who advised UK policy makers this year. Travels in June took him to the House of Commons, a conference of school principals in Birmingham and seminars in Northern Ireland.

• Earlier this year Newsweek website, science bloggers Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman questioned the accepted wisdom on emotional intelligence. “Measurable emotional intelligence isn’t predictive of all the positive life outcomes that have been promised,” they claimed. See: Are we being dumb about emotional intelligence?

[See also:Keep calm – think – the “stop light man” cometh and Adding the nerve to working together

Explainers

emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence describes the ability to identify, assess and manage the emotions of oneself and others.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is the co-chairman of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence at Rutgers University and founder of the Child Studies Center at Yale. His book Emotional Intelligence was a bestseller when it was published in 1996, and opened up the field to the general public. 

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