Legislative Update

2/8/17 – SB 0771/HB 0888

Sen. Beavers and Rep. Pody have filed the “Bathroom Bill”

“Students – As introduced, requires students in public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms that are assigned to persons of the same sex as that shown on the students’ birth certificates.” – Amends TCA Title 49.

TSCA will work closely with TCA and our TCA Lobbyist to bring you updates.


The proposed bill:

As introduced, prohibits the state board of education from adopting standards or competencies for social and emotional learning; prohibits the department of education from providing instruction or competencies in social and emotional learning to fulfill the requirements for character education. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 1, Part 2; Title 49, Chapter 1, Part 3 and Section 49-6-1007. 


Contact your Legislators!

Phone calls have a greater impact on legislators.

  • Begin the conversation with “I oppose SB 4/HB 357”. Then follow up with any of the talking points listed below.
  • Legislators need to hear that educators and families want and need social and emotional learning supports so that students will have the skills they need to succeed in the future – including communication skills, decision making skills, and goal setting skills.
  • Schools are the ideal place for them to be taught/reinforced in collaboration with parents/caregivers and the community.
  • If you choose email and your Legislator responds with a form email or lack of support for your views, make sure you reply to let them know you have not changed your mind and you still oppose these bills.

Call Today!

Senate Education Committee Members – click here

House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee – click here

Find your Legislator

What are SB0004/HB0357 really about?


Educational research shows that for students to succeed in the future, they need to be equipped not only with academic skills, but also personal and social competencies that allow them to take initiative, persist, communicate effectively, and make good decisions. If a physician turned away from the latest research and determined treatment for their patient based on what the state deemed appropriate, we would call that malpractice.(credit: Dr. Justin Tarte https://twitter.com/justintarte/status/814130080976805888)

The skills we’re talking about are critical for student success.  Why would the state want to prohibit the DoE from supporting LEAs that might elect, because of their own local priorities, to work on them? The state department should be available to support any LEA that chose do so, but this bill would prohibit that. No one is trying to create mandatory standards, but shouldn’t LEAs expect to have support from the state when they want to support all of the competencies business leaders tell us students will need to succeed in the future?

Let’s change the conversation…

Instead of referring to SEL “standards”, we need to focus on explaining what the specific skills are that fall under the umbrella of SEL.

Executive Function and Self-Regulation Skills

  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Attending/focusing skills
  • Listening skills
  • Cooperation
  • Coping skills
  • Responsibility


The Research…

Research shows that schools that focus on academic skills as well as the executive function skills mentioned above, report improvements on everything from student behavior to academic performance.


  • Meta-analysis in 2011 of 213 studies and 270,000 students K-12 showed 11% academic gains, reduced behavior problems, more engaged, motivated students.
  • 11:1 return on investment, in terms of benefits to cost analyses from research.


“Soft” skills are critical for success in school and the workplace.

  • Youth surveys reveal high rates of teen stress, disengagement, and low achievement.
  • Teachers want support to teach these “soft” skills, 93% in the Missing Piece
  • Recent studies (e.g., Deming, 2015, RWJF, 2015) show importance of social skills development (from kindergarten) in predicting adult outcomes, including employment and health.

The most recent TN specific data regarding ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) shows that 1 in 4 Tennesseans have 4 or more ACEs.

  • ACEs have been linked to:
    • risky health behaviors,
    • chronic health conditions,
    • low life potential, and
    • early death.
  • ACEs have also been linked to economic impacts – the greatest of which are productivity loss. (source: CDC)
  • Social-emotional learning and supports in schools help to mitigate the effects of ACEs.

Parents value these skills.

  • Bring in any data you have from your school’s needs assessment i.e. In one elementary school in West TN, the most requested Parent/Caregiver Info Session was “Supporting your Child’s Social and Emotional Development” (45.9%).

Employers value these skills and behaviors above all—

  • from Wall Street Journal August 30, 2016: “A recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers found 58% say the lack of soft skills among job candidates is limiting their company’s productivity. In a Wall Street Journal survey of nearly 900 executives last year, 92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. But 89% said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes. Many say it’s a problem spanning age groups and experience levels.” Business leaders say they can train employees how to run job-based equipment, but they can’t teach them how to make good decisions. They need schools to educate students so that they know how to collaborate, problem solve, and make good decisions.


FAQ – (common concerns about SEL in Schools)

Q: Why is the state taking over the role of the family and trying to teach students how to feel?

A: TN (or LEA) is committed to helping reinforce and build upon what is taught at home. Focusing on the social and emotional needs of students can help them to identify what they are feeling so that they can begin to effectively manage those feelings in constructive ways. Then, instead of fighting, for example, they’re working in teams; instead of missing a day of work due to stress, they show up and are productive. Extensive research shows that students with these “soft skills” do better in school, at work, and in life.


Q: Why are we signing on to another set of national standards and tests?

A: TN is not signing on to any set of national standards nor tests. We want to learn and discover what is best for our students, families, and teachers. Part of that work is articulating student goals for social and emotional development (e.g., students will know how to focus their attention, how to set and achieve goals, and how to communicate effectively). Extensive research shows that students with these “soft skills” do better in school, at work, and in life


Q: Isn’t this just giving educators one more thing to do?

A: Educators are already doing this work. Many are looking for the resources and support to do it effectively. The goal of SEL work at the state level is to provide educators with these resources to aid in their efforts to teach students how to problem solve, work well in teams and become better critical thinkers. These are personal and professional qualities that are critical to college/career readiness and employability.


Q: Shouldn’t LEA’s be able to determine goals for their own students?

A: It is our understanding that SEL work at the state level is focused on discovering what is best for our TN students, families and educators. Part of that work is articulating student goals for success with input from leaders in workforce development and education. These “soft” skills are important for the development of a strong TN workforce. When the state DOE validates and provides guidance on how to implement effective programming (In this case, SEL), LEA’s are empowered to provide training and support to their teachers.

Proud to Announce the TSCA 2016 School Counselors of the Year!



TSCA Honors our Administrators of the Year!


At this year’s School Counselor & Administrator Leadership Institute, TSCA honored three Administrators of the Year. The criteria for selection was based on the Administrator’s advocacy for the role of the School Counselor as well as dedication to the well-being of all students.

Elementary School Administrator of the Year

Rhonda Kennedy – Barkers Mill Elementary (Clarksville, TN)

“Mrs. Kennedy has taken a particular interest in addressing the social/emotional and behavior well-being of all students in her care. To support the unique needs of students in her school, she has supported the school counselors in addressing both social/emotional and behavioral needs through individual and small group counseling despite a district focus on academic intervention… She encourages and empowers her school counselors to implement a comprehensive program, knowing these services will support academic achievement and development for her students.”

Joshua L. Stanley, EdD, NCC

Middle School Administrator of the Year

Liz Dias – Houston Middle School (Germantown, TN)

“In order to achieve the vision of student-focused instruction, Mrs. Dias displays a collaborative leadership style that gives all stakeholders decision making input… School Counselors are esteemed and respected as part of the overall school leadership and there is an ongoing partnership between the principal and school counselors to identify needs, set goals and evaluate results. This partnership led to Houston Middle School receiving the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) Award at the 2016 ASCA National Conference.”

Carla Christian, MEd

High School Administrator of the Year 

Dickie Sompayrac – Knoxville Catholic High School (Knoxville, TN)

“I have always known that Mr. Sompayrac was a great leader of our school, an advocate for the counseling department, and ultimately for student success. From keeping counselor to student ratios to 1:180 by hiring an additional counselor, to supporting classroom time for the school counselors and finally by saving the Student Assistance Program (SAP) for the school when the funds that typically supported this program became unavailable, Mr. Sompayrac proves his dedication to his students and staff through his actions. I am very thankful for the opportunity to pause and thank someone who is doing the right thing, not for the glory or recognition, but for the outcome he probably won’t get credit for in the long run.”

Kat Coy, MS

Melinda Kirk, MEd

Chris Morgan, MA