Why the Equip Our Kids!


Our Role in Promoting Emotional and Social Learning in America

For all the brilliant development and superb work in what educators call the formal “Social-Emotional Learning” world, there is one immense gap preventing mass adoption of emotional intelligence learning in all schools – and therefore stymying growth of emotional and relational intelligence (EQ) in young people. 

Our Campaign intends to fill this gap.

To understand our role, it’s helpful to first name what’s working.

  • An extensive range of organizations and businesses have already created an untold number of effective teaching materials and practices that schools can utilize. Many have been research-tested.
  • A number of high-quality organizations already promote EQ learning effectively to educators.
  • Several organizations and many independent consultants provide policy support and practical guidance for embedding EQ-raising social-emotional learning practices and policies throughout all school classes, activities and relationships with parents and the community.
  • A few provide hands-on support for choosing and implementing comprehensive support materials, practices and policies.
  • Many academic hubs carry out excellent research on the subject, both in terms of effectiveness and to some degree on the elements necessary to guarantee strong implementation.

Our Campaign intends to fill this gap.

Ask just about anyone who is not in education “do you know what emotional intelligence learning or social-emotional learning are or consist of?” 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 nor pressure on schools to implement them.

Our Contribution

Our 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/EQuip Our Kids! 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.
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 – social-emotional learning-oriented American organizations have to date created the bandwidth to promote the cause widely and effectively to parents and to the public itself.
This leaves parents and the general population largely oblivious to what knowledgeable educators accept as the exceptional benefits of implementing this learning in every school across the country – indeed, in the world.

Why We Want Parents and the Public to Call For “Go All the Way” EQ Learning?

As Stephanie M. Jones and Suzanne M. Bouffard of the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrote in their excellent study of 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.”
Along with their call for comprehensive EQ implementation, the writers wisely advocate for a goal of preparing all teachers for such curricula and for professional development in implementing programs and practices for school administrators. Other experts call for training of all school staff in order to create an integrated EQ culture within the school, noting the positive personal effects on teachers, administrators and general staff as well as on the quality of the school experience and environment.
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 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 emotional intelligence implementation and research!
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 programs and practices have 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 15%-20% of U.S. schools or less) use elements of social-emotional learning intermittently rather than consistently, with generally scattered results. Only an estimated 10% of schools have prioritized such learning 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 EQ learning in all schools, we seek to provide wind in the sails of the many remarkable organizations and businesses dedicated to furthering such learning – a big public push they have longed for.
And some good news….
Recent encouraging shifts in education policy that can be leveraged by the EQuip Our Kids! Campaign make our efforts even more timely:
The new Common Core State Standards, adopted by 40 states, which set guidelines (not requisites) for what children should know and be able to do in each grade in English Language Arts and Math, now call for higher-order thinking skills, like finding multiple solutions to problems, as well as the ability to collaborate with peers, actively listen, and participate in academic debate and other similar social skills.
The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, calls for the use of “multiple measures” not only test scores to determine a school’s rating. Therefore schools and districts are required to measure and report on school climate and culture, suspension rates, student social and emotional skills, or another “non academic” factor.
This is a major shift in federal policy and opens a door for parents and citizens mobilized by our campaign to meet less resistance than in the past in pressing for this superb learning in their local schools. 

Working for the Cause

While supporting the excellent work of these organizations and businesses, our Campaign operates independently as a nonprofit in order to have maximum flexibility to promote the cause, with no financing or directives from, or formal legal ties to, any of the support organizations or program providers. 

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 programs and with research. It also advocates for support from lawmakers, and operates a project that is helping eight large urban districts across the U.S. directly implement EQ-raising programs and practices. 
Other examples of program ratings bodies 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  exuberant support of the cause of these and many other principled players, is our 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 additional noteworthy organizations and information about emotional intelligence and social-emotional learning.
Community Support: Suncoast Foundation and Lee County Schools

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.

Cindy Helton, the Suncoast Foundation’s Executive Director


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