First 100 Days: Actions on the Department of Education and the Every Student Succeeds Act

  • May 19, 2017
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To reflect on the new administration’s first 100 days, we released the 100 Day Report: The Trump Administration’s Actions on Student Health and Wellness. At its core, the report tries to answer the question: How has the Trump administration acted on the opportunity to help create a better future for our children and our nation by improving health in schools?

The role of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in supporting student health and school wellness through education policies and programs is key to promoting learning and academic success. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the first major overhaul of our national education law since 2001, recognizes the importance of supporting the whole child and ensuring that all students have access to a safe and supportive school environment. The implementation of ESSA at the federal level under the direction of ED, and compliance with the new law by states and school districts, provides an opportunity to more fully integrate health and wellness into education policy and practice, thereby supporting both health and academic success.

In the first 100 days, the administration made small and large changes with respect to ED and ESSA that cause concern about their commitment to student health and wellness. For instance, Congress repealed ESSA regulations around accountability and professional development, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released new guidance on ESSA that scales back requirements on issues such as stakeholder engagement.

In addition, the administration’s budget blueprint, both in the version released in March and the version that is likely to be released next week, indicates cuts to programs that are essential to supporting student health and wellness. For instance, the budget eliminates the Supporting Effective Instruction program to recruit, support and train educators on topics including chronic absenteeism and mental health; eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that played a key role for many districts in coordinating wraparound services for students such as essential behavioral and primary healthcare services; and eliminates the funding for Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which could specifically be used to support student mental and behavioral health services, nutrition education, physical activity and other programs to support safe and healthy students.

We are concerned that the actions of this administration in its first 100 days indicate a lack of regard for the value of school health. These actions have in some cases put important supports for health and learning in jeopardy, including supports for our nation’s most vulnerable children.

In this context, your advocacy and leadership are more important than ever. These first 100 days show that it’s up to us—parents, teachers, advocates, elected officials and all who care about children’s health and learning—to carry on the work of ensuring every school can provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our nation’s children.

Read the full report to learn more about the specific actions the administration has taken and what the impacts might be. We have also developed a template letter that you can send to the White House to show the President that you care about student health and wellness and his administration should, too!