State legislators tabled a proposed bill requiring social health courses be taught in Tennessee middle schools until June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, in the Senate, and Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, in the House.
Elizabeth Ramsey, an associate professor of family and consumer sciences education, worked on the bill with Bailey.
Social health involves teaching about healthy lifestyles, lifespan development, healthy relationships and effective communication skills, career exploration, resource management and appropriate technology use.
Ramsey said she proposed the idea based on a program she implemented while teaching English at Avery Trace Middle School.
“What I noticed within three weeks into the school year was that I had a lot of repeat behavioral problems, so children that were fighting, violent, shoving kids against lockers. I mean just the same things over and over,” Ramsey said.
She said a lot of the students who had behavioral problems also had high adverse childhood experiences, or ACE’s. ACE’s are physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.
Ramsey said she believes it is important for the children to learn how to resolve conflicts, understand and regulate their emotions, and learn about healthy relationships in order for them to do better in school.
She said she discussed a proposed law on social health education to Bailey during a chance meeting.
“I was at Spankies and had been doing a Trauma Informed Care training when I ran into Senator Bailey,” Ramsey said. “I basically told him that social health would’ve been a great piece to the education pie, and he was interested.”
The bill, however, has been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ramsey said Sen. Bailey’s office informed her that legislators tabled every non-essential bill until June.
Ramsey said she plans to ask members of the Tennessee Association of Family and Consumer Sciences to write letters advocating for the bill.