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New legislation gives teachers support tools for students

4/18/2018, 11:30 a.m.
With input from her Women’s Legislative Advisory Committee, state Rep. Natalie Manley, Joliet, legislation was passed through the House Education: ...

With input from her Women’s Legislative Advisory Committee, state Rep. Natalie Manley, Joliet, legislation was passed through the House Education: Curriculum and Policy Committee this week aimed at giving teachers additional tools to help students manage emotional trauma.

“Over the past several months, members in my Women’s Legislative Advisory Committee have shared stories and concerns about why we need to do more to address mental health issues in our schools,” Manley said. “Through these discussions, we drafted two pieces of legislation that will help prepare teachers to help students through difficulties they may experience at school and at home.”

Manley’s bills were created to give teachers and school districts more tools to help students process and express their emotions. Manley’s House Bill 4657 creates the Emotional Intelligence Task Force which will develop age-appropriate curriculum and guidelines to teach students how to process difficult experiences. Her other measure, House Bill 4658, requires school districts to include professional development training for teachers to provide them with techniques to help students K-12 through emotionally distressing times.

“Whether it is bullying from other classmates or hearing about yet another mass shooting at a school in our country, students today are internalizing and distressing over a lot of difficult situations,” Manley said. “While many districts try to have counselors in our schools, this unfortunately is not always possible due to budgetary constraints. To help bridge the gap, these pieces of legislation will help ensure teachers and school administrators are better prepared to help our children.”