Biden Declares Today International Social And Emotional Learning Day

Celebrating it's third year, SEL Day was officially recognized by President Biden the same day he signs a controversial education relief package.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Today, President Biden recognized March 11th as International Social Emotional Learning Day. Social and emotional learning often referred to as SEL, is the process through which people understand and manage emotions to aid in goal achievements, empathy towards others, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The President acknowledged SEL day concurrently with the signing of the American Rescue Plan into law. 

SEL awareness has been a part of education for over 25 years, but it has gained more attention over the last decade. SEL Day was established back in 2019 by the Urban Assembly with the help of SEL4US.  The initiative looked to garner attention by empowering communities to celebrate the importance of social-emotional development. 

In his official letter, President Biden iterated the importance of SEL day, especially during the pandemic. Stating that he and others have found a “renewed understanding” regarding the importance of social skills and taking care of others in times of need. That, at its core, is what Biden believes SEL is all about. President Biden also showed support to those who continuously aided children’s SEL development throughout the pandemic, saying that the government has a responsibility in supporting them as well.

President Biden further went on to discuss the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan as being part of his agenda for SEL Awareness Day. Coincidentally, the bill was signed into law today. The $1.9 trillion packages included $122 billion set aside for state educational agencies and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain safe operations. Also, it looks to address the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s students with a focus on SEL. 

Furthermore, President Biden vows to continue his efforts in integrating SEL skills and resources into America’s schools. He also claimed there is a need to get educators and communities resourced to help adapt SEL skills in students. However, not everyone agrees with the President on a further need to develop such skills.

While most people would likely agree that social and emotional skills are important in life, not everyone agrees that raised awareness is needed. Opponents say the time spent advocating SEL skills inside classrooms takes time away from more important core subjects like math and reading-all things heavily documented to be declining amongst students nationally. Similarly, some activists see SEL initiatives as a means to push kids in schools towards other controversial topics like gender identity and race ideology. 

Advocates for SEL tell a different story. Research regarding social and emotional learning shows that there is a direct correlation between education curriculums that promote SEL and positive results for students. SEL interventions were found to have increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points compared to those who did not participate. They also showed improved classroom behavior and an increased ability to manage stress and depression. 
Across the United States, organizations are promoting the celebration of SEL Day. The focus for this year’s third annual celebration, the Urban Assembly emphasizes a need to find common ground while pursuing “command good”- a notion surely every American can agree to attempt to implement today.