Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Banning SEL Puts Students at Risk

May 31, 2022 1 min read
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To the Editor:

As I hear about the bans on social-emotional-learning curricula, I find myself wondering if those trying to ban it understand what SEL is (“Florida Officials Reject Long List of Math Resources, Citing References to Critical Race Theory and SEL,” EdWeek Market Brief, April 18, 2022)? Do they realize it was created by a long line of scientists and researchers more than 30 years ago? Do they know that what they are trying to ban is content that many of my teacher colleagues and I consider fundamental to helping develop well-rounded students?

Parents and educators who understand SEL find it hard to see how anyone could argue that SEL doesn’t belong in school lessons.

Yet, here we are.

The arguments against SEL are based on misconceptions, and schools can address that by being transparent about what SEL is. Parents also must educate themselves, and teachers must feel empowered to share examples of how SEL helps with classroom behaviors and overall classroom management.

Students face unparalleled challenges and have record-high levels of mental health issues to the point where medical professionals across the nation are sounding an alarm that children are in an unparalleled mental health crisis. A recent Navigate360 and John Zogby Strategies poll shows that 57.3 percent of teens are interested in educational content or short courses to help manage stress and anxiety, and 55.1 percent want part of their curriculum to be spent learning about and working on their social-emotional well-being.

Bans on SEL curricula put our students at risk, both now and in the future. We’re removing critical supports at a time they need them the most, and I worry about the long-term consequences of these shortsighted bans.

Let’s prioritize holistic safety and wellness solutions for schools, empower educators to continue to use proven techniques backed by decades of research, and focus on reaffirming our shared values around what children need to become well-rounded adults.

Melissa Ragan
Chief Learning Officer
Farmington, Maine

A version of this article appeared in the June 01, 2022 edition of Education Week as Banning SEL Puts Students at Risk


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