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House Education Committee Holds Back to School Hearing

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On Tuesday, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing, “Back to School: Meeting Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs.” The partisan but cordial hearing examined various topics in the context of K-12 education. Chairman Kilili Sablan (D-NMI) inquired about teacher shortages, and specifically about how to ensure a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities in light of the special educator shortages.

Panelist and Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt noted that shortages have persisted since before the pandemic, and that the state has been employing various pathways to recruit and retain teachers, including recruiting first generation college students, and utilization of American Rescue Plan Act funds to address shortages. Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) also inquired about teacher vacancies in high-poverty schools and high shortage areas, including special education. He noted that education must be respected as a profession, and one way to show that respect is through providing higher wages to compete in a competitive job market.

Democrats on the panel targeted many of their question to Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, President and CEO of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, seeking to elevate the value of social emotional learning (SEL). Dr. Samuel stressed that SEL cannot be bifurcated from academics. “All learning is social-emotional,” she remarked. These are the skills we use as adults, and the skills we want our students to apply in the classroom. Republicans largely avoided the topic of SEL, focusing their attention on the oversight of stimulus funds, the impact school closures had on students academic performance and mental health, and on blaming teachers’ unions for school closures.

To view the hearing, go here.

Posted:  23 September, 2022

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