HOUSE BILL 591
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019
Joy Garratt and Debra M. Sariñana and Antonio Maestas and Natalie Figueroa and Willie D. Madrid
RELATING TO PUBLIC EDUCATION; ENACTING THE MENTAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING ACT; REQUIRING MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL HEALTH EDUCATION STANDARDS TO BE INTEGRATED INTO ALL INSTRUCTION FOR KINDERGARTEN THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE; PROVIDING FOR PREVENTION OF AND EARLY INTERVENTION FOR ACADEMIC AND BEHAVIORAL CHALLENGES FROM ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES OR MENTAL ILLNESS AND FOR EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL COMPETENCE FOR TEACHERS AND FOR STUDENTS IN ALL GRADES; DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. A new section of the Public School Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Mental, Social and Emotional Learning Act"."
SECTION 2. A new section of the Public School Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] FINDINGS.--The legislature finds that:
A. extensive research has shown that children who are exposed to adverse childhood experiences such as maltreatment, extreme poverty, neglect, homelessness, illegal drugs and crime are often vulnerable to addiction, suicide, mental illness, low educational outcomes and dropping out of school without a diploma, which may lead to a renewal of a family cycle of un- or under-employment, substance abuse, homelessness, violence and crime and a high dependency on government subsidies;
B. adverse childhood experiences are the greatest health care threat to New Mexico children and certainly an area of need for future research and in-depth study in New Mexico;
C. for the state to address and arrest these cycles, it must focus on delivering critical interventions throughout the entirety of each child's educational experiences, especially through mental, social and emotional health strategies, skills and techniques, because research shows that these can prevent and treat many of the effects of adverse childhood experiences before they compound and present as extreme academic or behavioral difficulties in school or result in unhealthy behaviors for the rest of their lives;
D. treating unhealthy behavioral choices and habits or even mental health disorders with prescription drugs may lead to opioid addiction and other substance abuse;
E. the use of medications to change behavior and treat signs of possible mental health conditions in children can create detrimental effects on the cognitive, executive functioning of a child's brain, temporarily or permanently decreasing or impairing that child's ability to learn and negatively influencing the child's behavior choices;
F. New Mexico is consistently either even with the national trend or higher in some areas of mental illness indicators, especially in suicides;
G. New Mexico is experiencing a critical shortage of teachers in both general and special education, and recent research suggests that building teachers' social-emotional competence can improve their overall effectiveness and well-being by helping equip them with the tools needed to respond to the unique stressors of the teaching profession and potentially reduce burn-out and attrition;
H. although New Mexico has kindergarten through twelfth grade health education standards for health education teachers in New Mexico, research demonstrates the need for mental, social and emotional health strategies, skills and techniques to be taught, practiced and mastered across all settings and in many different circumstances in education and in life for mastery and healthy life-long habits to be developed and maintained; and
I. adding these health strategies, skills and techniques into regular classroom instruction is a bold statement by the legislature and the governor that the state cares deeply about New Mexico children and their teachers enough to require the enactment of the Mental, Social and Emotional Learning Act and that New Mexico's economic success and quality of life for all its residents will benefit from intentional, embedded mental, social and emotional health education of public school students and what they will take home to their families from this instruction."
SECTION 3. A new section of the Public School Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] MENTAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH-- INTEGRATED INTO ALL INSTRUCTION.--
A. The department shall require that mental, social and emotional health strategies, skills and techniques that are culturally and linguistically responsive be integrated into all general and special education instruction.
B. The curriculum and the requirement for a schoolwide focus on mental, social and emotional health shall include classroom instruction that is preventive, explicit, embedded and delivered through daily instruction.
C. Students shall be assessed for mental, social and emotional growth on a regular basis, and that data shall be used intentionally to plan for and address needs with interventions using the response to intervention framework as required. Mental, social and emotional health shall imbue an intentional schoolwide, districtwide and statewide climate and culture of mental, social and emotional skills reinforcement necessary for students to master necessary life skills. Assessments and data shall not be used for punitive purposes for either students or teachers."
SECTION 4. A new section of the Public School Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] TEACHER PRACTICES TO SUPPORT MENTAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING--SCHOOL USE OF FEDERAL MONEY TO SUPPORT.--
A. The department shall work with all public post-secondary teacher preparation programs to ensure that future teachers are taught evidence-based best practices that support age-appropriate educational, mental, social and emotional learning that is culturally and linguistically responsive and strengthened through public school programs, including teacher-induction, mentorship practices, ongoing teacher coaching and professional development plans and access to professional resources. Best practices include:
(1) student-centered discipline;
(2) teacher language that encourages student effort and work;
(3) responsibility and choice given to students in the classroom;
(4) warmth and support shown by teachers and peers;
(5) cooperative learning strategies, such as supported group work;
(6) classroom discussions;
(7) self-reflection and self-assessment;
(8) an appropriate balance between direct instruction, group learning and independent work;
(9) high expectations for students' academic performance and behavior; and
(10) competence-building instruction, including modeling, practicing, feedback and coaching.
B. Strategies for teachers to use to promote effective culturally and linguistically responsive mental, social and emotional health include:
(1) free-standing lessons that teach mental, social and emotional learning explicitly, following a script or a program;
(2) integration of mental, social and emotional learning instruction and skills practice within the context of normal classroom curriculum delivery; and
(3) classroom and schoolwide systems and routines to create and support a climate that is heavily focused on mental, social and emotional development in students.
C. School districts and charter schools may use their Title 1, Title 2, Title 3 and Title 4 funds for teacher training in techniques and supports for addressing the needs of at-risk youth in areas such as safety, peer interaction, drug and alcohol abuse and chronic absenteeism through prevention, intervention and referral for additional mental health services recognized by need."
SECTION 5. A new section of the Public School Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] ACCOUNTABILITY--SCHOOL AND DISTRICT REPORT CARDS.--The department shall design and require the collection of accountability data on the implementation of the provisions of the Mental, Social and Emotional Learning Act in public schools and school districts. The data shall be reported as required by the department in school and school district report cards."
SECTION 6. APPLICABILITY.--The provisions of this act apply to the 2019-2020 and subsequent school years.
SECTION 7. EMERGENCY.--It is necessary for the public peace, health and safety that this act take effect immediately.
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