Last week marked an important milestone in education as President Obama signed into law the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The law contains some substantial changes that are expected to have a major impact on the nation’s public schools.
Dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new ESEA makes important shifts in how schools will be measured and held accountable for their ability to support student success. Notably, the law advances a number of provisions that support school health.
The Healthy Schools Campaign website has a nice overview of these school health provisions, which include:
- added attention to the importance of chronic absenteeism for identifying at-risk students
- inclusion of health services under Title I Schoolwide Program Plans which opens these services to additional funding opportunities
- the requirement for school districts to conduct health and safety needs assessments which would allow the Department of Education to fund schools with priority needs in these areas
- the designation of subjects such as health education and physical education as critical to student success, making available federal funding for such programs that was not present in the past
Additionally, the law’s provisions advance support for the community schools movement that brings together academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement.
The Coalition for Community Schools heralded the passage of ESEA as a huge win in advancing the vision of schools and communities working together to support student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities:
“The bill’s passage is a pivotal moment for the community schools movement. It empowers State and district leaders to rethink strategies to support all students to succeed and to see their communities as vital partners in that effort.”
~ Coalition for Community Schools
Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools adds our applause to those celebrating the new ESEA law and the ways it seeks to advance school health. It is our hope that, in recognizing the inherent connection between student health, community development, and educational success, this law will strengthen opportunities for schools to build healthy, positive, thriving environments that can be the foundation of a lifetime of health.