In December 2015 Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.” — President Barack Obama
So why should we be excited?
No Child Left Behind marginalized our subject and led to widespread cuts to funding. With the passing of ESSA, Health education is now on a level playing field with all other subjects, and as such now has significant access to funding that was previously unavailable to us.
So we are now as valued as all other subjects?
You will hear the term well rounded education (which replaces the term core academic subject) and this means that health and physical education can now compete for Title I, Title II and Title IV funds along with English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education.
So what are these funds for which we are now eligible?
Title I – $15 billion. This is the section of federal education law that provides financial assistance to school districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families.
Title II – $469 million. This is the section of federal education law that provides financial assistance to school districts and schools for professional development for principals, teachers, and school employees.
Title IV -$1.65 billion. Within ESSA, Title IV provides block grants to states to fund student supports and academic enhancements (which includes health and physical education), 21st -century community learning centers, charter schools, magnet schools, innovation, research, and school safety.
So the future is secure for health education?
Well, we can’t rest on our laurels if that’s what you mean. The inclusion of school health and physical education as part of a well-rounded education is not a mandate. Also, although we have new access to funding, we are competing for these funds with other subject areas.
So what action can I take?
Our inclusion within the realms of a well rounded education came as a result of the advocacy efforts of people such as SHAPE America, the American School Health Association (ASHA) and many others. We must continue to advocate for our subject area and show support for the efforts of those who continue to speak up on our behalf.
- Talk with others about the benefit of health education.
- Educate yourself on the finer points of ESSA.
- Listen to the ESSA podcast from SHAPE America.
- Register for 2016 Speak Out! Day and advocate in Washington, DC.
- Attend an ESSA session at the 2016 SHAPE America convention in Minneapolis in April.
- Take part in the Twitter chat on February 4th (see below)
Anything else I need to know?
Well, the new law does not require states to set up teacher-evaluation systems based in significant part on students’ test scores and some states, including New York and Oklahama are making moves in that direction. Keep an eye on the news in the coming months – who will make the move, and who will stick their head in the sand?
Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions.
Q1 How do you think ESSA will effect you as a teacher? #slowchathealth
Q2 Listen to the SHAPE America podcast and leave a review. #slowchathealth
Q3 Do you plan on being at the 2016 SHAPE America convention? #slowchathealth
Q4 Will you be at 2016 Speak Out! Day? #slowchathealth
Q5 Looking for fellow #healthed teachers to follow? Check out this list. #slowchathealth