Advocates Turn Out to Keep SEL in Schools

Advocates Turn Out to Keep SEL in Schools

Teachers, administrators, and parents attended Monday’s House Education public hearing to oppose HB 1473, which looks to ban social-emotional learning curriculum in public schools.

4,290 people also provided online testimony submissions in opposition to HB 1473. 123 people signed in to indicate they supported banning SEL.

“SEL class helps me to stay calm and be happier,” six-year-old Cordelia Dubois told the Committee. She went on to explain how her SEL class at Abbot-Downing School teaches her what to do when she gets mad at school or at home.

She showed the committee her toolbar, which features steps like pausing and breathing, rewinding to think about what happened to make her feel that way, and then making a good choice like playing.

She also showed them five-finger breathing. “You breathe in when you trace up your finger and breathe out when you trace down.”

Following her testimony, Committee Chairman Rick Ladd gave her a standing ovation and thanked her for her testimony.

Cordelia’s testimony was covered on WMUR, and in the Union Leader, Boston Globe, and Concord Monitor.

Watch Cordelia’s testimony:

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Other advocates testified about the benefits of SEL seen in classrooms and even later in life.

Lenny O’Keefe of the Concord Police Department’s Community Service Unit testified with comfort dog Liberty, the first comfort dog in New Hampshire, to share his experience with visiting schools across the state as part of the Choose Love for Schools program. Together they have visited over 100 schools in New Hampshire and O’Keefe shared a story about a little boy who participated in a forgiveness activity. O’Keefe recounted, “the paper said “I forgive my dad for being mad at me last night because I didn’t play well in the hockey game.” If you want to talk about academics that day – if that little boy didn’t forgive his dad, he isn’t learning anything that day. He was able to take that paper and throw it away, forgiving his father, and then he went on with his day.”

School counselor Nicole Long said, “school should be a place of safety, belonging, compassion, security, and nurture. … Our young people unequivocally know that there’s a support system rallying behind them and cheering them on to encourage their resiliency through challenges and to pave a brighter and better future for themselves. The whole child is the priority.”

As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Masters Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, John Ludice specializes in addiction and has been asked many times what the best prevention strategy is for addiction. Ludice’s answer: “I always say it’s teaching kids between the ages of around 5 and 12 how to identify their emotions, ground themselves and calm themselves down, and ask for what they need in a more productive way. Skills like the ones taught in SEL are how you can prevent these problems [like addiction] later in life.”

Fern Seiden, a long-time New Hampshire educator, emphasized how SEL works in tandem with academics, saying that “SEL skills and academics actually compliment each other, rather than compete with each other.”

Over 30 people testified in person at the public hearing for HB 1473.

Next Steps:

The House Education Committee will hold an executive session to vote on a recommendation for HB 1473 on February 13. They may also vote on any proposed amendments to the bill at this time.

There is still time to email the committee to encourage them to oppose this legislation.

After the Committee votes on a recommendation, the bill will head to the floor for a full House vote. Sign up for New Futures emails to make sure you’re hearing about the next steps on this bill!

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