SEL and Equity: Educators Must be at the Forefront of the Social Justice Movement

Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all. – Aristotle

Over the past several days, thousands of people across the country and across the globe have gathered in protest in response to the death of George Floyd and the countless souls lost to the scourge of systemic racism. Our nation is at a tipping-point in virtually all sectors of society. Education is paramount to this movement and outcry for justice as we add Mr. Floyd’s name to the ever-growing list of black Americans who have fallen victim to the institutional racism that continues to plague our country. We can no longer fail to address issues of racism and implicit bias that exists in every sector of our society – particularly our most vulnerable sector – our education system.

The time has come for an Emotion Revolution in our nation’s education system. – Marc Brackett

The mission of SEL4CA is to empower the youths of California to thrive – in school and in life – by advancing and supporting effective Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs, policies and practices in all schools and communities statewide. In order to fulfill our mission, we must first start by acknowledging the fact that not every child is navigating on a level playing field. We must reach out to our black and brown students, educate all students on issues of racism, bias, privilege, social justice and civic engagement, in order to bring about the change needed to address the systemic racism that permeates our society and continually fails our communities of color.

If we want a compassionate society – we need to teach the skills that create that society – the social and emotional skills. -Tim Ryan

We have never had a greater need for SEL than in this moment. Social Emotional Learning holds perhaps the greatest promise of all in changing the way we approach education and equity. However, we must also be vigilant to avoid the misuse of SEL as a behavior compliance tool which, used improperly, can result in further perpetuation of a white supremacy culture.

To let this moment pass, to let the loss of life pass, without committing to REAL change is unforgivable. As educators and proponents of SEL, we must be at the forefront of this movement to realize the dream of a just society for all – we owe it to George, to Breonna, Ahmaud, Eric, Trayvon, Tamir, and every soul on that tragically endless list. We owe it to our children and to our students – whose names we hope never to be added.  

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama