House and Senate Reach Agreement to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

House and Senate Reach Agreement to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education ActOn November 19, a bicameral conference committee approved a deal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has been known as No Child Left Behind since 2002. The agreement is a compromise between the House-passed Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177). The House is expected to vote on the compromise bill during the first week of December and the Senate will vote shortly thereafter.

The new legislation, known as Every Student Succeeds Act, provides improvements to several areas, including state accountability, strengthening teacher quality, supporting at-risk populations and expanding early childhood education. In addition, the bill includes robust supports for student health and safety. Local education agencies will be able to partner with public or private entities in the community to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive programs to address issues such as substance abuse, mental health, bullying, violence, healthy relationships, nutrition, and physical activity.  To ensure that school-based health center (SBHC) providers will be considered eligible entities to deliver these programs, the School-Based Health Alliance successfully advocated for the inclusion of nurse practitioners as eligible providers.

The compromise bill also revises a provision in the House-passed version regarding SBHCs and reproductive health services. The House-approved H.R. 5 contained a provision that would have barred funding from the bill to school districts who partner with school-based health centers, unless the SBHC could certify that they would neither perform abortions nor provide information or referrals regarding abortion. The Alliance worked closely with Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to successfully strike the ban on providing information and referrals from the compromise bill. We also worked to highlight that current law (the Affordable Care Act) already prohibits SBHCs from performing abortions.

We are grateful to Ranking Member Murray and her staff for their support of school-based health care professionals to provide full, accurate, and unbiased information to adolescents to prepare them for healthy and successful futures.

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