There will not be room for a lot about SECD in the ESEA, so I'd like to describe three essential pieces I think should be included. They are the minimum that we need to prepare children for the tests of life, not a life of tests, and for genuine, passionate, informed participation in civic life.
These recommendations can and should be part of the policy of every school and every district, in the U.S. and worldwide, public or private, magnet or charter, secular or religious:
#1. Each student should receive a minimum of one-half hour of explicit instruction per week in skills related to social-emotional and character development (SECD) as part of a comprehensive prek-12 scope and sequence (see Anchorage, Alaska, public schools for an example of such a framework, as well Appendix C of CASEL's Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators).
#2. Every teacher, student support services provider, and administrator should have demonstrated competence in implementing evidence-based SECD programming and positive climate promotion at the classroom and/or school level (as appropriate).
#3. Every school should undertake a systematic assessment of staff and student perceptions of school climate, including school safety/bullying and student engagement/ participation/voice, at least once every two years and use that feedback in a staff-wide data review for systematic improvement of SECD competencies and school climate in schools that have a clear sense of meaning and purpose. In middle and high schools, students should be involved in the data review and planning process.
What do you think? What would be your three elements, if you had the ear of the ESEA reauthorization committee, or your own school district Board of Education? And keep it to three... that's all folks usually want to hear, at least at first!