On February 23, 2018, the California Department of Education (CDE) released new guidelines for teaching social and emotional skills. It is important to remember that these are guidelines, not laws. As such, schools are not required to follow them.
In an effort to improve social-emotional learning, the CDE established five guiding principles. They are:
1.) Adopt Whole Child Development as the Goal of Education. This principle recognizes that academics is just one part of learning. Students must have opportunities to practice, demonstrate, and reinforce social-emotional skills. Schools are encouraged to reflect the importance of social-emotional growth in their vision statements, discipline policies, and and skills instruction.
2.) Commit to Equity. Opportunities should be offered to all students. Schools should encourage a diverse student population to participate in the student body. The guidelines also encourage a workforce that is diverse.
3.) Build Capacity. Schools need to be intentional to build relationship-centered learning environments by offering research-based learning experiences. Schools should ensure every student and adult feels they belong and have value. The guidelines recognize schools may need to offer professional learning to address student social and emotional development.
4.) Partner with Families and Community. Schools are encouraged to expand learning opportunities to families and build respectful, mutually beneficial relationships.
5.) Learn and Improve. Schools should adopt continuous improvement practices which includes the need for comprehensive planning, implementation monitoring, and adoption of necessary policies and practices.
The guidelines are a good start in recognizing the need to address the social-emotional growth in California students. Students with social-emotional disabilities may receive services and supports under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the IDEA, and corresponding state laws and cases. Any policies implemented by local school agencies should take these laws into consideration.
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