What We’re Reading: Does SEL Work for Students of Color?

January 19th, 2018

Category: Funding and Equity


What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.


What I’m Reading:  Is Social and Emotional Learning Really Going to Work for Students of Color? (Dena Simmons, EdWeek)

I’ve read a lot about social and emotional learning lately: SEL research, SEL policy, SEL best practices, SEL webinars—you name it. Much of what I come across re-hashes some version of familiar talking points—what students need to know to be socially and emotionally competent, best practices when it comes to setting standards, or engaging districts in implementing SEL programs.

But here, educator and researcher Dena Simmons takes us back to a fundamental question about SEL. Is it going to work for students of color? In all the work we do to advance the education system for “all students,” how often do we stop and ask ourselves if our solutions are going to work for those most in need? This article challenged me to reconsider basic questions about not only SEL, but in all our collective work in education.

Most poignantly, however, Simmons makes me ask: How can we make sure SEL isn’t further perpetuating educational inequities for students of color?

Shyanne Miller


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