Legislative Update: Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

US CapitolOn Thursday, July 16, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) [S.1177], which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. The legislation, which passed by a large margin of 81 to 17, includes robust student health and wellness components, alongside its core components of strengthening state and local control over K-12 education.

Included among these provisions is a mandate that school districts include community stakeholders in a needs assessment to develop students’ safety, health and well-being programs. In addition, the bill designates school-based mental health programs, conducted in partnership with community-based entities, as an allowable use of funds. We believe this bill creates potential opportunities for SBHCs to be integrated into school health and wellness efforts as community stakeholders and providers.

The next step in this process is for the House and Senate to negotiate their respective bills in a Conference process. The House passed their version of ESEA reauthorization in February, the Student Success Act [H.R. 5], which varies dramatically from the Senate bill. The House version does not include comprehensive health and wellness components, and includes several unfriendly SBHC related amendments regarding reproductive health services. As this process moves forward, we will strongly advocate that these provisions be removed from the final negotiated bill.

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