Anderson and Anderson Anger Management/Emotional Intelligence consultant and faculty member, T. L. Wentz, Ph.D., was an invited panelist who participated in the Fifth Annual Public Defender’s Juvenile Justice Summit in San Francisco, May 14, 2008, hosted by Mr. Jeffrey Adachi, Director, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. This year’s theme for the conference was “Less Talk, More Action: Solutions for Safe Schools and Safe Streets” and focused upon reducing violence in San Francisco’s schools and high-risk communities among students.
The host, Mr. Adachi, in his conference-opening remarks, made special note and “thanked Mr. George Anderson, Executive Director of Anderson and Anderson Anger Management, the world’s largest provider of Anger Management/Emotional Intelligence training for the presence and participation of his consultant, Dr. Tom Wentz, an expert on Anger Management and emotional intelligence.”
The keynote speaker, Dr. Francisco Reveles, Professor of Educational Leadership and Senior faculty member at CSU – Sacramento, as well as a nationally recognized leader, curriculum author, and most recently, film producer in the areas of resilience and risk-taking youth in the prevention of Latino school dropouts. Dr. Reveles, a former youth migrant worker in the agricultural fields from Texas to California, stressed the importance of “empowerment of Latino youths, and, of all young men and women, to set their sights beyond the barrio and to determine their own futures; to search beyond where they are on the streets ask themselves, does what I do have self-respect?” Dr. Reveles concluded his remarks with the high expectations he places on all his students and Latino youth and to do the same for themselves.”
The panelists included Margaret Brodkin, State Director DCYF; Carlos Garcia, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District; Nathaniel Ford, MTA Director; Angela Chan, J.D., Director, Asian Law Project; James Dierke, Middle School Principal of Visitation Valley Middle School and the National Middle School Principal of the Year, 2007; and Captain Marsha Ashe, San Francisco Police Department.
Dr. Wentz, representative of Anderson and Anderson Anger Management/Emotional Intelligence services, Brentwood, CA, drew the first ovation from the audience of approximately 300 San Franciscans and fellow panelists when he said:
“The Anderson and Anderson model of Anger Management/Emotional Intelligence is the only anger management skills building curriculum recognized by the California courts and penal system as effective in producing positive, individual change. Thirty years ago, Mr. Anderson recognized a need and continues to fulfill that need today. However, in order to appreciate Mr. Anderson’s efforts to help others, I would like to share something about Mr. Anderson with all of you.
Mr. Anderson is a 70 year old Black man who grew-up in Mississippi during World War II and has experienced things no person should ever have to endure. He was diagnosed as mentally retarded before Special Education even existed. Later, Mr. Anderson was one of six, non-medical professionals invited to attend Harvard Medical School’s training for psychiatrists. It is Mr. Anderson’s belief that we human beings share one unifying quality – emotions! Religion, economic and political systems as well as cultures do not unify us, in fact, these institutions have served to drive us further apart. It is in our emotions that we find our humanness, and as a result of our shared emotions, it is our humanness that offers the hope of unifying all of us!
I wish to extend Mr. Anderson’s apologies for not being here today. He is with his family celebrating his son and his son’s graduation from college. He sends his apologies to all of you.
Today, I was going to talk about the Anderson and Anderson Anger Management/Emotional Intelligence curriculum and training, but given the direction and compelling discussion around the need to end violence in the schools and education in particular what I would like to say is this: I have been around education for over 30 years as a special education teacher, researcher, and an assistant professor of education. And, I have to say, we educators have missed the point for these past 30 years.
We educators know how to teach math and science – we have made a science out of teaching math and science! But where we have failed is we have not taught children about themselves! Specifically, we have not taught our students about their feelings, how to identify them, what names to give their feelings and most importantly, we have not taught our children how to express their feelings appropriately! We have not taught our children their humanness!
I am moved by this entire conference and the overwhelming nature of the problem of school violence to share a personal experience. As well as being an educator, I am also an alcohol and drug counselor. I came to California six years ago to provide alcohol and drug counseling treatment to professionals – doctors, lawyers, airline pilots in the Betty Ford Center’s Professionals in Recovery Program.
Where I came from was the Midwest. Ten years ago I was a counselor and director; actually I was the entire counseling department for a Native American therapeutic school in North Dakota. We had approximately 260 students, 4th through 8th grade. Ninety percent (90%) of our students were already in the juvenile justice system, 75% were on Special Education IEPs, 64% screened positive for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and 90% were addicted to alcohol and other drugs; mind you – these children were 4th through 8th graders!
The commonality between these kids and the professionals, the impaired physicians and attorneys, at the Betty Ford Center was this – they all did not have a clue about their feelings! In treatment, regardless who I am working with, where I have to start with everyone is the recognition and awareness of feelings and then, how to express those feelings appropriately!
In anger management/emotional intelligence where we start is with the recognition and awareness of feelings primarily – anger, then how to express that feelings appropriately! When we teach about emotional intelligence, we teach specifically about how to identify and express empathy, compassion, cooperation and forgiveness to ourselves, then for others!
Nationally, there is a movement in education called Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Presently, one state, Illinois, has mandated and generated learning objectives for teacher education and curriculum requirements for students, kindergarten through senior high school on social and emotional learning. Now, according to Mr. Adachi, Texas has passed a law requiring all students in middle schools and high schools to take coursework on Anger Management for graduation. Clearly, SEL programs in the form of anger management/emotional intelligence for all students is one part of the solution for San Francisco.
The second speaker, who received an ovation from the audience, was Angela Chan, J.D. Executive Director of the Asian Law Project and Harvard Law School Honors Graduate. Ms. Chan eloquently addressed the need for an end to interracial violence stemming from people of color against other people of color through interagency cooperation and a seamless delivery of services and support for all people!
The morning session ended with a series of questions of the members of the panel from the large, and diverse audience. Superintendent Garcia fielded a series of questions concerning specific operations of the school district and responded citing the current financial and budgeting crisis in California stating there was no money for existing programs let alone adding new programs such as SEL. Dr. Wentz of Anderson and Anderson was given the final response of the morning and stated:
No new monies are needed for the initiation of anger management/emotional intelligence programs for the school district. The monies saved from not suspending or the expulsion of students due to misbehavior and the retention of ADA funds could be channeled into such a program especially for “At risk” students. Students on suspension learn nothing that we want them to learn and the school district loses $49.00 per day per student.
However, by keeping those students in school and enrolling them in an anger management/emotional intelligence skills development course, the school district keeps the ADA funds and the students, the school and the district may benefit!
In fact, based upon a meta-analysis of 288,000 students participating in SEL programs nation- wide, funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation and conducted by the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the results and changes in individual students, their classrooms, their schools and their communities have been significant and positive – behaviorally and academically! Learning about feelings, emotional intelligence, and how to express feelings appropriately helps students gain self- confidence, reduces stress and violence, creates classroom harmony, increases academic achievement in all academic areas and overall – contributes to safer and saner schools!
One very interesting finding, of the meta-analysis that has implications for ‘how to’ implement an SEL program, is the finding that students who received their anger management/emotional intelligence skills curriculum from a teacher within the school scored higher (improved behaviorally and academically) in all areas compared to those students who were taught these skills by an expert or an outsider. However, both groups who received the SEL training showed significant increases in school performance and positive behavioral outcomes compared to the control groups!
Regardless, given the social conditions described here today in the violence among students, violence among racial groups and by gangs against everyone else – we seem long past the point where we have any choice left but to teach our children how to live with themselves and with each other.
Dr. T.L. Wentz
Training Faculty, Anderson & Anderson