On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first passed in 1965.
Because they help to shape the social and economic environment, laws governing education have an impact on health. In addition to its underlying impact on public health, the Act contains a number of provisions aimed directly at improving health, mental health, and safety in our nation’s schools. Health is addressed explicitly throughout ESSA, including in particular the provisions for planning, assessment, and accountability under Title I and provisions concerned with student support, academic enrichment, and community-based learning under Title IV. Providing equitable educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged children, children from all major racial and ethnic groups, children with disabilities, English language learners, children of both genders, migrant children, rural children, and homeless children and youth is addressed under ESSA.
The U.S. Department of Education, as well as state and local educational agencies, has begun to implement ESSA. The current implementation process may provide opportunities for public health officials and community members to collaborate with education leaders to promote community health. The Act calls upon state, Tribal, and local education leaders to engage in timely and meaningful consultation with stakeholders, as they engage in planning activities, comprehensive needs assessments, and community partnerships.
The Issue Brief and chart provides an overview of sections in the Act that are particularly relevant to public health, including the title and a brief descriptive summary of the section. For most provisions, citations are provided for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), and the U.S. Code.