July 2019 SEL Policy Updates

Congratulations to the advocates across the country who have been working to ensure that effective social and emotional learning (SEL) is supported in policy at the state and federal level. Here are some of the latest successes from across the country.


US House Passes Bill with $260M for SEL

On June 19, 2019 the US House passed H.R.2740, an appropriations act including funding for the Department of Education which included an unprecedented $260 million for social-emotional learning (SEL). The funds would support:

  • A new grant program to research students’ SEL needs ($170 million)
  • Teacher professional development ($25 million)
  • A competitive grant to help school districts increase the number of mental health professionals in schools ($25 million)
  • Support for community schools ($40 million)

The bill has moved on to the Senate. You can follow progress online at H.R.2740.


Oregon Passes Bill with Funding to Help Districts Address Local Students’ Health and Safety Needs

On May 16 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3427, establishing a “Fund for Student Success” (FSS) amounting to nearly $1 billion annually. The funds will be divided into several accounts, each with a specific focus. The Student Investment Account, allotted at least 50% of FSS resources, includes authorization for schools to use the funds to support specific activities including, among others, addressing students’ health or safety needs, which may include:

  • Social-emotional learning and development;
  • Student mental and behavioral health;
  • Improvements to teaching and learning practices or organizational structures that lead to better interpersonal relationships at the school;
  • Student health and wellness;
  • Trauma-informed practices;
  • School health professionals and assistants; or
  • Facility improvements directly related to improving student health or safety.

Washington Passes Social Emotional Learning and Children’s Mental Health Acts

In May Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5082, creating a committee to promote and expand social emotional learning, and SB 5903, an act concerning children’s mental health

SB 5082 creates the social-emotional learning (SEL) committee; requires the committee to adopt the benchmarks and standards developed by the SEL workgroups; develops and implements a statewide framework for SEL that is trauma-informed, culturally sustaining, and developmentally appropriate; requires the committee to review and update the standards and benchmarks for SEL and the developmental indicators for grades K-12 as needed, and align the standards and benchmarks with other relevant standards and guidelines; and requires the committee to identify SEL professional development opportunities for teachers and educational staff.

SB 5903 requires behavioral health coordination by educational service districts, training in topics related to behavioral health for school district staff, and the provision of a mental health literacy and healthy relationship curriculum by the office of the superintendent of public instruction to school districts; establishes a partnership access line for schools pilot program; establishes certificate programs in evidence-based practices for behavioral health at the University of Washington and expands child and adolescent psychiatry residencies at the University of Washington and the Washington State University; requires the development of statewide plans to implement coordinated specialty care and a multi-tiered system of school supports; requires the department of children, youth, and families to deliver infant and early childhood mental health consultation; and requires the health care authority to provide online training for behavioral health providers related to parent-initiated treatment and other treatment options.

Texas Passes School Safety and Mental Health Promotion Bill

On June 6 Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 11, an act relating to policies, procedures, and measures for school safety and mental health promotion in public schools and the creation of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium. The bill requires schools to train staff on mental health issues including suicide prevention and trauma-informed practices. It also requires the Texas Education Agency to develop and disseminate a list of evidence-based and promising programs and best practices that create school environments that support the social, emotional, and academic development of students.

Connecticut Passes Bills on School Climate and Culturally Responsive Teaching

On July 8 Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed HB 7215, an act concerning school climates, and SB 1020, an act concerning culturally responsive teaching.

HB 7215 makes numerous changes to the laws related to school bullying and safe school climate. Principally, it establishes a 33-member social and emotional learning and school climate advisory collaborative which explicitly includes a representative from SEL4CT and tasks it with, among other things, developing a biennial state-wide school climate survey, model positive school climate policy, and student suicide risk assessment. In addition, the new law requires the State Department of Education to publish on its website the model policy and school climate survey the collaborative will develop, and makes some additional changes to the existing school bullying statute.

SB 1020 adds instruction in culturally responsive pedagogy and practice to requirements for pre-service training, professional development and in-service training provided to teachers.

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