Letter of Support for State Leadership on School Climate

Schools play an essential role in preparing students to reach their fullest potential. A positive and healthy school climate enables learning by providing students with healthy adult-student relationships, access to social emotional and mental health and physical safety and sense of belonging which are essential to student success. As practitioners and policymakers confront intersecting health, economic and racial crises, schools can and should foster a supportive environment to enable healing and provide necessary support to our students. State policymakers, practitioners, and leaders in the education community have made great strides in defining and implementing positive school climates. This work builds on existing state policy initiatives and locally-led efforts focused on the science of learning and development, teacher and leader practice, family and community engagement, school safety, school redesign, and school improvement. This moment demands a commitment to re-envision education systems putting school climate at the center of improvement efforts. A positive school climate advances:

  • Academics: For students to master academic content, they must first experience a learning environment that intentionally fosters trust and affirming relationships, feeling emotionally and physically safe. Neuroscience suggests that students who feel unsafe or bullied experience a flood of stress hormones inhibiting their ability to concentrate and learn.
  • Equity: All students deserve to feel accepted, to have their identity, background, and humanity valued, and have the supports and tools they need to thrive. Attention to a positive and healthy school climate enables leaders to identify differences in how students experience their learning and allocate resources and supports to enable their success.
  • Pandemic Recovery: Focusing on school climate can accelerate and improve reengaging students after school closures. Use of climate surveys puts student experience and data about student needs at the center of reopening planning and helps schools address the academic, social-emotional, and mental health impacts of school closures.
  • Social-Emotional Development: In addition to enabling academic learning, a positive school climate provides opportunities for students to observe strong social and emotional skills modeled by adults, to develop positive life skills, and have voice in decisions that impact their learning experience.

State leaders are uniquely positioned to promote a healthy school climate by defining a state-wide vision for school climate, while supporting districts and schools to measure, improve, and establish a school climate learning agenda. We, the following organizations who represent, support, or interact with state policymakers, commit to ensuring school climate is prioritized in state education improvement priorities, pandemic recovery, and efforts to advance social mobility and racial justice:

Association of American Educators (AAE)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS)
Alliance for Excellent Education
America Succeeds
Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Center for Assessment
Center for the Promotion of Social and Emotional Learning
Chiefs for Change
Communities in Schools
Education Commission of the States (ECS)
Education Leaders of Color (EdLoc)
Education Resource Strategies (ERS)
Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab
Leading Educators
Learning Policy Institute (LPI)
Media Savvy Citizens
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)
National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE)
National Education Association (NEA)
National Indian Education Association (NIEA)
National School Climate Center
National Urban League (NUL)
Open Way Learning
The Prichard Committee
Student Achievement Partners (SAP)
Seek Common Ground (SCG)
Social Emotional Learning Alliance for the United States (SEL4US)
SOLD Alliance
Targeted Leadership
Teach for America (TFA)
The BARR Center
The City of Albuquerque
Transforming Education
Turnaround for Children
UChicago Impact

To add your name to this letter of support contact educationinfo@aspeninstitute.org.