Citizen Schools strongly supports the recommendations released today by the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope” asserts that our nation is at a turning point: We now understand that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpin children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs.
There is now widespread consensus that young people need much more than proficiency in traditional academic subjects in order to be ready for college, the workplace, and civic life. A richer and deeper definition of readiness includes intra-and inter-personal skills and dispositions such as self-efficacy and growth mindset.
The importance of social and emotional skills in the workplace has been well-documented, but a virtual focus group of business leaders hosted by the Commission and Citizen Schools on July 25 revealed the broader array of skills that today’s employers value such as intellectual curiosity, willingness to give and receive feedback, personal ownership of problems and challenges, and recognition of unconscious bias.
The third case study from the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development discusses the role community partners can play in supporting children’s learning in collaboration with schools. “School-Community Partnerships” cites key examples of school-community partnerships, highlighting the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative in particular which (as many of you may remember from our visit there last November) takes a city-wide approach to this work, joining everyone from the mayor’s office to the local Boys and Girls Club in support of children’s learning.
Winter marks a set of important anniversaries for Citizen Schools: the anniversary of our incorporation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1995; the anniversary of Black History Month, which offers the country an important reminder of the perseverance and resilience necessary to forge a more just and equitable society; and, now, my first year anniversary as our CEO. I am proud to stand on the shoulders of giants in fulfilling our mission to close opportunity gaps to restore economic mobility in this country - and every student’s shot at the American Dream.