Published December 15, 2015
WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law last week. The ESSA overhauls the No Child Left Behind education law that has been in effect since 2001.
The ESSA provides key provisions that seek to assist American Indian and Alaska Native students succeed in public education, while addressing serious issues that confront many Native students across Indian Country, such as suicide prevention and domestic abuse. Included in the ESSA is the emphasis on the importance of teaching Native languages. These provisions seek to help close the achievement gaps in Tribal communities.
Specific provisions in the new law will help Native students succeed by:
- Requiring local and state education agencies to consult and partner with Tribes on policies impacting Native students;
- Strengthening programs to improve academic achievement of Native students;
- Supporting schools that primarily instruct in Native languages to promote the revitalization and maintenance of Native American languages;
- Allowing funds to be used for violence, abuse, and suicide prevention activities, culturally related activities, and family literacy programs;
- Requiring the Department of the Interior and the Department of Health and Human Services to report on efforts to address suicides among K-12 students in Indian Country;
- Establishing and operating family engagement centers;
- Expanding eligibility for Tribal schools to access funds for school leadership recruitment, arts programs and gifted programs; and
- Preserving education programs to train teachers, and offer fellowships for Native students who want to become teachers.