April 2021 Spotlight on Proposed SEL Legislation Across the US

All fifty states opened new legislative sessions in recent months. We’re sharing information about pending legislation from across the country to spotlight emerging SEL policy.


US S729

A bill to establish an Educational Equity Challenge Grant program administered by the Department of Education

This bill introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes a $100 billion application-based grant program which would go to implement evidence-based strategies to improve academic, mental health, and interpersonal outcomes such as social-emotional learning, culturally responsive practices, and tutoring. This program is intended in part to address the education challenges caused by COVID-19, but also generally addresses some key failings of our schools and pushes to embed SEL in education to improve outcomes for everyone. Learn more about US S729.

SEL4MA Shares Legislative Agenda

We’re excited to share with you SEL4MA’s Legislative Agenda for the 192nd Legislative Session!

SEL4MA’s agenda is ambitious—they have filed two of their own bills to require educators to be trained in strategies to develop students’ social-emotional learning competencies and to require district plans to include professional development in delivering framework content to students in a racially, linguistically, and culturally responsive way.

They are also supporting three additional bills that would: establish a Commission for Anti-racism and Equity in Education along with a Trust to fund the Commission’s work; require equity and diversity criteria for all statewide curricula; and require affordable and accessible high quality early education and care in order to promote child development and well-being.


SC H3901

Social emotional learning in public schools

This bill out of the South Carolina House was drafted by SEL4SC in partnership with SEL4SC Coalition members. Not only does H3901 expressly support “embedding social emotional learning in academics in all public schools from kindergarten through twelfth grades” but it also confronts the emotional and psychological challenges resulting from the COVID pandemic and looks to support students, teachers, and staff with SEL. The bill recommends a wide range of changes, including hiring more school-based mental health professionals and improving teacher access to counseling and support services. Thanks to SEL4SC and the 52 organizations that make up the SEL4SC Coalition for leading the way on this important work! Learn more about SC H3901.


IN SB0205

Teacher training

This bill from the Indiana Senate sets standards for teacher training, including both traditional and alternative training programs. Alternative teacher certification programs, which can come in from out of state, are required to meet certain requirements, and teachers graduating from either of these types of programs, in addition to having a strong grasp of their subjects and teaching methods, should attend youth suicide awareness and prevention training. SB0205 also mandates that teacher preparation programs consider training teachers on evidence based social emotional learning practices. Learn more about IN SB0205.


CT SB00002

An Act Concerning Social Equity And The Health, Safety And Education Of Children

This Connecticut Senate bill includes various SEL priorities. Most notably, it aims to cultivate SEL values in students, staff, and overall school cultures by requiring boards of education to “integrate the principles and practices of social-emotional learning into programs of professional development and statements of educational goals.” In addition, the bill aims to provide relevant COVID support by increasing communication with families and regulating and allowing remote lessons and conferences. The bill also supports early intervention, alternative visitation options, and methods to improve response capacity to child abuse and neglect cases. Learn more about CT SB00002.


TX HB4001

Relating to the adoption of social and emotional learning standards for public school educational programs

Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez proposed this bill which would have the state Board of Education adopt “developmentally appropriate, evidence-based standards for social and emotional learning.” These new standards would be implemented in schools at every grade level and would focus on improving key SEL competencies such as self-management, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. Learn more about TX HB4001.

NJ S2486

Establishes Clayton Model Pilot Program in DOE to provide school-based social emotional learning to students in grades kindergarten through five at certain public schools

The Clayton School District in Gloucester developed a responsive intervention program that has been proven to positively impact students’ social and emotional health, academic performance, and caregivers’ supports. This bill lays out a proposed pilot program to expand this model to ten public schools in each of three counties. These schools will adhere to the Clayton Model, which involves hiring a number of social-emotional professionals to provide support at the school and country level. At the conclusion of the five-year pilot program, a steering committee and other experts will report on the program’s effectiveness and possible continuation. Learn more about NJ S2486.

TN HB1288

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, relative to school discipline

With the overarching goals of fostering healthy school climates and lowering dropout rates and involvement in the criminal justice system, TN HB1288 would institute the “Keep Kids in School Act.” This would entail reforming discipline practice and implementing tiered support structures, specialized training for teachers and staff, partnering with external organizations to provide support, and introducing social-emotional learning practices. These changes are all proven to be effective, and would be appropriately applied for students with special needs. Learn more about TN HB1288.

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