The Big EQ Campaign intends to fill this gap.
To understand our role, it’s helpful to first name what’s working.
MERELY, THE PUBLIC!
Ask just about anyone who is not in education “do you know what Social and Emotional Learning is?” and you will get a blank stare.
In this wasteland of no awareness by most parents and the general public of the very existence of these game-changing tools, there is little to no demand or pressure on schools to implement them.
The Big EQ Campaign is stepping in to provide what every important social movement that has been successful always generates. That is, a major leading institution that mobilizes the public behind what is so clearly in the public good.
The Big EQ Campaign intends to be the first-ever mass advertising, marketing and organizing campaign whose sole goal is that every school include in its curriculum the development of students’ and teachers’ social and emotional intelligence and skills.
In fact, we are happy to make the argument that, beyond the beautiful upside for all schools, no mission out there is more important to the long-term overall public good than elevating the human capacity to deal in a healthy way with ourselves and others.
Leading with the Heart
Community Support: Suncoast Foundation and Lee County Schools
Cindy Helton, the Suncoast Foundation’s Executive Director – “ Just by seeing the data were children are able to make better decisions, not let their emotions rule their decisions. It was eye opening for all of us to see how important SEL is in the schools. It aligns so closely with our mission of providing health and education and an emotional wellbeing for children. It was a perfect ﬁt for us and we are happy to support it.”
As Stephanie M. Jones and Suzanne M. Bouffard of the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrote in their excellent study of SEL effectiveness and adaption in the Social Police Report of the Society for Research in Child Development:
“Perhaps most importantly, and often overlooked, is the fact that SEL programs are rarely integrated into classrooms and schools in ways that are meaningful, sustained, and embedded in the day-to-day interactions of students, educators, and school staff.
“Indeed, evaluation research on SEL programs rarely includes a careful description of implementation benchmarks or fidelity (Domitrovich & Greenberg, 2000), but SEL programs typically occupy a half-hour lesson on a weekly or monthly basis (e.g., Jones, Brown, Hoglund, & Aber, 2010).
“Like academic skills, social and emotional skills develop over time and in a continuously staged fashion so they must be continuously developed. Even more than academic skills, they must develop in the context of daily life as social challenges and other teaching opportunities arise.
“As a result, schools cannot meaningfully teach and reinforce SEL skills during one half-hour per week any more than parents can build these skills during one weekly conversation.”
In essence, the writers advocate for a longer-term SEL goal of teacher preparation and professional development for school leaders, as well as more research and development.
Child development experts and researchers are still working on discovering all the practices that deliver the most impact, the sequence they should be delivered, and with what dosage. Shifting from SEL lessons and curricula to a more integrated and embedded approach represents the exciting vanguard of the field.
Of course, none of the desirable outcomes will happen very soon without major public support for moving forward on SEL implementation and research!
And that no facet of human life, no challenges we face, will go untouched by such progress.
Unfortunately, none of the leading – and much to be honored – SEL-oriented American organizations have to date created the bandwidth to promotes SEL widely and effectively to the public itself.
This leaves parents and the general population largely oblivious to what knowledgeable educators accept as the exceptional benefits of implementing SEL in every school across the country – indeed, in the world.
In the absence of public support, funding for the infrastructure, materials, and personnel training required languishes, and bureaucratic resistance does not. No surprise then that comprehensive, well-integrated, evidence-based SEL has been adopted by relatively few American schools even though they are cost-effective long term.
Instead, an unknown percentage of schools (one estimate is about a-quarter of U.S. schools or less) use educational elements of SEL intermittently rather than consistently, with generally scattered results. Only an estimated 10% of schools have prioritized SEL and integrated it fully into their school cultures and classes.
(By sad contrast, under “zero-tolerance” policies heavy on discipline and law enforcement rather than on addressing the emotional and psychological roots of violence, the nation’s schools since 2009 have, on average, reported an annual suspension rate of 10%, the highest it’s ever been, with many minor offenses criminalized and youths sent to jail. This according to U.S. Department of Education’s civil-rights data. Fortunately, such programs are now in decline.)
By inspiring and mobilizing the public to insist on SEL program in all schools, The Big EQ Campaign seeks to provide wind in the sails of the many remarkable organizations and businesses dedicated to furthering Social and Emotional Learning in education – a big public push they have longed for.
And some good news….
Recent encouraging shifts in education policy that can be leveraged by The Big EQ Campaign make our efforts even more timely:
This is a major shift in federal policy and opens a door for parents and citizens mobilized by our campaign to likely meet less resistance than in the past in pressing for SEL in their local schools. .
While supporting the excellent work of these organizations and businesses, The Big EQ Campaign operates independently as a non-profit in order to have maximum flexibility to promote the cause, with no financing or directives from, or formal legal ties to, any of the organizations or businesses.
Among the best known are Edutopia from the George Lucas Foundation, and most prominently The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a non-profit organization based in Chicago which describes itself as “the nation’s leading organization advancing the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students.”
CASEL does so in part by rating school and after-school SEL programs and with research. It also advocates for SEL policy with lawmakers, and operates a project that is helping eight large urban districts across the U.S. directly implement SEL programs.
Other examples of ratings bodies for SEL programs are What Works Clearinghouse and Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
In exhuberent support of the cause of these and many other principled players, is The Big EQ Campaign’s Game Plan, which we encourage you to read and to endorse – one of several easy ways you can help.
Also see our Resources section for more noteworthy organizations and information about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social and Emotional Learning.