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In Support of Massachusetts' Bill S.301/H.543, an act to promote social-emotional learning (SEL) in education.

July 15, 2021

Housman Institute wholeheartedly supports Massachusetts Bill S.301/H.543, an act to promote social-emotional learning (SEL) in education.

Bill Summary: Requires training in strategies to develop students’ social-emotional learning competencies as a prerequisite to educator/administrator licensure and re-licensure.

This Bill, presented by Massachusetts Senator Cynthia Stone Creem and Representative Ruth Balser, would prioritize the inclusion of social and emotional learning (SEL) in educator and administrator professional development.

According to SEL4MA, the lead organization behind the Act to Promote Social-Emotional Learning, the current law regarding requirements for educator and administrator licensure and renewal does not contain language or make mention of training in social and emotional learning.

The addition of just these few lines to the existing licensing language has far-reaching implications. Mounting research shows that high-quality SEL practices in schools support children in the pro-social skills they need to thrive. They are also foundational to building equity and addressing the opportunity gap: Teachers with strong SEL skills are better equipped to reach and teach students with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities. As it stands, individual school districts bear the financial burden of training educators and administrators in SEL if they so choose. The result is an inherent inequity; some students receive the benefit of embedded SEL, while other districts do not.

We know the child’s brain achieves 90% of its development before the age of four. Neural pathways are being wired by the stimulation of daily experiences, with significant implications for social and emotional competencies. These experiences happen through interactions with key adults in their world—caregivers and educators. If children are taught to understand and manage their own frustration, they will develop self-regulation. If they are taught to recognize and respect the emotions of others, they will develop empathy. Evidence-based research shows that children who gain these building blocks as part of curriculum significantly outperform their peers in key emotional competencies, self-regulation, empathy, and other prosocial skills. We see universities adjusting curricula to address this critical reality: that students’ emotional and social skills will be at least as important as their grades in their future careers.

Housman Institute supports this bill, and urges swift passage.

Sincerely,
Dr. Donna Housman, Ed.D
Housman Institute

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