WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to approve a bipartisan, bicameral legislation overhauling the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the country's federal K-12 education law. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) takes major strides to reform the No Child Left Behind law by giving states more flexibility to intervene in underperforming schools within strong federal guardrails for accountability, shining a light on resource inequities, and reducing reliance on high-stakes testing.

“Today’s reauthorization of ESEA represents a critically important step to fixing the failures of No Child Left Behind, and ensuring a quality education system for New Jersey students, parents and teachers,” said Sen. Menendez. "It rejects the one-size-fits all approach for one that is more balanced. It also gives student-athletes and their parents greater peace of mind by adopting safety provisions based on parts of my SAFE PLAY Act to provide federal funding for states and school districts to develop and implement student-athlete safety plans under a new grant program."

The House and Senate each passed a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). There is widespread acknowledgement that No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the last ESEA reauthorization, is in dire need of reform to address unrealistic mandates that failed to acknowledge and address the significant gaps that exist between states, as well as concerns from parents and educators that students were being over-tested and teachers were being forced to teach to the test.

Having passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, ESSA represents a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act originally signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. ESSA seeks to improve our nation’s public education system by replacing the14-year old No Child Left Behind law and providing states increased control over schools.

Given the recent spate of serious athletic injuries and deaths in New Jersey and across the country, Sen. Menendez was able to secure provisions in the ESEA that would allow federal funding to be used to develop and implement student-athlete safety programs under a new Title IV grant program. These programs may include concussion safety, cardiac conditions like cardiomyopathy, and heat and humidity safety. The bill also allows states to use funding to supply schools with evidence-based materials relating to student-athlete safety and these types of conditions.