April 24, 2012: A parent group in Redwood City is proposing a charter school that focuses on students' social and emotional Learning (SEL), an educational curriculum popular in private schools, reports Stacie Chan for the Redwood City Patch. The parents plan to submit their petition for a charter to the Redwood City School District Board of Trustees on May 1.
From the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL):
SEL is a process for helping children develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness. These skills include recognizing and managing our emotions, developing caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically. They are the skills that allow children to calm themselves when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices.
The Connect Community Charter School will open in Fall 2013; teachers plan to integrate the SEL curriculum with experential learning rather than using the traditional textbooks.
From the Redwood City Patch:
Not a single traditional...textbook would exist in the classrooms.The schedules would vary drastically, using a block system that gives teachers longer periods to engage their students and more deeply understand concepts. The 25-student classrooms would also have mixed grades to allow students to teach and learn from each other.
The curriculum would be based on social and emotional teaching and inquiry-based. Parent and school spokeperson Whitney Wood said that research showed this resulted in increased engagement, higher test scores, better classroom behavior, and reduced risk taking at home...teachers would be highly involved in developing and adjusting the curriculum as needed.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has implemented a SEL violence prevention program called Second Step since 2004; according the CASEL, for LAUSD students who have completed the second year of the Second Step program, data shows a 43% reduction in the number of referrals and a 64% reduction in disruptive behavior.
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.