Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Emotional Intelligence: What Policy Makers Can Do

Whether you’re a member of your local school board or a state or federal legislator, you can help uphold social and emotional learning locally and nationally.

February 22, 2001

The following strategies are aimed at developing systemic support for social and emotional learning:

  • Recognize the link between social and emotional learning and student achievement. The fall 2000 issue of Character Educator, the newsletter of the Character Education Partnership, features an excellent article on this topic.
  • Evaluate local programs. How effective are your school district's efforts to promote social and emotional learning? Use the Character Education Partnership's Eleven Principals of Effective Character Education to evaluate all aspects of your program.
  • Formalize social and emotional learning or character education. At the state and local level, policy makers are making the emotional health of students a priority by requiring character-education programs in all K-12 schools. New Jersey and Texas, among others, have launched statewide efforts in this crucial area.
  • Invest in counselors and other support services. Noted author Maurice Elias has identified support services as one of four key components of an effective school-based program in support of social and emotional learning. You'll find excellent articles discussing the role of schools in supporting the mental health of youth at the Web site of Connect for Kids, a project of the Benton Foundation.
  • Support funding efforts. During the 2000-2001 school year, nine states shared $2.5 million in U.S. Department of Education money in support of character education. Large-scale efforts like this go a long way toward providing schools and school districts with the financial wherewithal to invest in the resources and professional-development efforts necessary to implement a comprehensive program in support of social and emotional learning.


Read these books and visit these Web sites for more information about social and emotional learning:

  • Character Education in the Classroom: How America's School Boards Are Promoting Values and Virtues, by Judith B. Saks. More information about this publication is available from its publisher, the National School Boards Association.
  • Educating Minds and Hearts: Social Emotional Learning and the Passage into Adolescence. This book, edited by Jonathan Cohen and published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, features articles by many experts in social and emotional learning and includes useful strategies for everyone interested in promoting emotional intelligence in our schools.
  • Review "100 Ways to Promote Character Education" for innovative and practical ways to support character education at the Web site of the Center for the Advancement of Character and Ethics.
  • The Character Education Partnership is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to development of character-education programs in our responsible society. Visit the CEP Web site site for its excellent resources on character education.
  • The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning was founded in 1994 by Daniel Goleman and Eileen Rockefeller Growald to establish social and emotional learning as an integral part of education from preschool through high school. Visit the CASEL Web site for informative articles, as well as extensive links to other SEL resources on the Web.

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