K-12 Education

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

2015 marked the long-awaited reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with enactment of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Committee Democrats fought to ensure that the nation's new law honors the civil rights legacy of the ESEA through its inclusion of strong federal guardrails to maintain high standards and promote educational opportunity for historically disadvantaged students. As attention turns to implementation of the ESSA, Committee Democrats maintain focus on educational equity and are committed to oversight to ensure states and school districts are acting responsibly to close achievement gaps and better serve all students.


Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity

The research is clear; more than six decades after Brown v. Board of Education, racial and socioeconomic isolation remain persistent challenges to improving educational opportunities for all students. ESSA implementation presents a new opportunity for states and school districts to thoughtfully and deliberately promote student body diversity as a reform strategy to improve academic outcomes. Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats are working to identify federal, state, and local policy solutions to decrease racial and socioeconomic isolation and increase educational opportunities for all students.


Students with Disabilities

While ESSA includes important protections for students with disabilities, the principal K12 disability legislation, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is due for reauthorization. Committee Democrats are committed to promoting inclusion for special education students and increasing access to the general education curriculum through maintaining high standards for students with disabilities and improving access to accommodations and quality instruction.


School Climate

Additionally, Committee Democrats are committed to a safe learning environment for all students. Committee Democrats are working to advance legislation to improve learning conditions, from school modernization to efforts to reduce bullying and harassment. Committee Democrats are fighting for a learning environment that is free from disciplinary tactics that remove students from the classroom, including use aversive behavioral controls that compromise student health and safety.


Key Legislation:

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by ESSA

The Department of Education’s ESSA Implementation

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004 Reauthorization)

The Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act

The Keep All Students Safe Act

The Safe Schools Improvement Act

The Student Non-Discrimination Act

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