Social and emotional learning

News Roundup: Equity, Social-Emotional Learning, and More

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With so many stories in the news every day, it’s easy to miss developments that are relevant to you and your district, school, or classroom. We’ve gathered a variety of highlights in education news so you can stay up to date on issues that matter to you.

Study: Students Achieve More With Equitable Representation from Teachers

A new study shows how important it is for students of color to have teachers of the same race, NPR reports. According to the study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, black students with just one black teacher had lower dropout rates and were more interested in going to college. This impact in younger years carries over to high school as well. The research reveals that black students who had one black teacher in elementary school are 13 percent more likely to pursue secondary education, and that number increases to 32 percent when students have two black teachers.

This study is a hallmark as the first of its kind to examine these long-term effects. With only around 18 percent of public school teachers identifying as non-white in the 2011-2012 school year, there is a long way to go to increase equity in the education workforce. Organizations like the Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE), which helps recruit black educators, are appearing across the country to address this need.

Teaching SEL Skills Could Be Key to Combatting Student Stress, New Survey Reveals

As The 74 reports, 1 in 3 teenage students said they feel stressed out and bored in school, according to a new report commissioned by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Post-high school young adults report even higher levels, with a majority saying they feel stressed and bored all or most of the time. This information follows a similar trend in previous studies, such as the 2015 poll by American Psychological Association, which reported more diagnoses of anxiety in teenagers in recent years.

Understanding how to deal with stress and anxiety is an important part of social-emotional learning (SEL), which has been linked to higher graduation rates and improved academic outcomes. While students have trouble with stress and boredom, a majority of students also said their schools did a good job teaching them other important SEL skills, like confidence and empathy. Nearly 80 percent said their schools had positive environments and that their teachers were supportive.

Civil Rights Leader Who Helped Desegregate Schools to Open New Center

Leona Tate, who in 1960 helped desegregate McDonogh 19 Elementary School in New Orleans, is carrying on her mission to improve education equity with the opening of a new center, according to The Hechinger Report. At six years old, Tate and two other first graders became the first black students to attend the school. Now, 59 years later, the school’s building—which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and left empty for nearly 15 years—will be the site of Tate’s “interpretive center.” She wants guests to experience what it was like to be part of such a difficult and important movement. “I want them to see how hard it was for us to get in there,” she says. The center will be a space to discuss racial issues still prevalent in education and to learn more about desegregation, which was not fully accomplished in 1960, as Tate explains, and remains an ongoing battle.

California Teacher Connects Students’ Passion for Sports to Social Change

At Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, California, Toni West transformed the Sports and Society class from a casual elective to a space for critical thinking and social-emotional learning, EdSurge reports. By setting guidelines for communication and respect, West was able to foster a classroom community in which students felt comfortable discussing serious topics like homelessness and equity. Through discussions and documentaries, West showed students that the athletic world is actually a microcosm for society, with similar problems to tackle.

This connection sparked genuine passion among many of the students. The class culminated in a final project where students designed a plan for a new organization, teaching them entrepreneurial lessons like budgeting, marketing strategies, and outreach tactics. But one of the most important lessons they learned was, in Wests’ words, that “powerful catalysts for social change often come from issues that have personal connections to their own lives.”


HMH publishes a news roundup on the last Friday of each month. Check out the next one on Feb. 22.

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