U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today urged the prospective House and Senate leaders of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) conference committee to include his amendments that were adopted earlier this year as part of the Senate’s consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) in the final bill that they will report from their anticipated conference committee.
Thune’s amendments would require the secretary of education to coordinate with other federal agencies to report on efforts to address youth suicide in Indian Country and expand the use of Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) funds to include preventive efforts against youth suicide and other school violence instead of merely responding to the crisis.
“One of the greatest tragedies that can befall a family is the loss of a child to suicide,” wrote Thune. “Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indian youth in Indian Health Service areas, where the death rate is four times the national average. I am hopeful that my amendments will help address this pressing issue, and I respectfully request they be retained by the ESEA conference committee.”
Full text of the letter can be found below:
The Honorable Lamar Alexander The Honorable Patty Murray
Chairman Ranking Member
455 Dirksen Office Building 154 Russell Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable John Kline The Honorable Robert Scott
Chairman Ranking Member
2439 Rayburn House Office Building 1201 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Alexander, Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Murray, and Ranking Member Scott:
Thank you for your continued leadership and efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As you seek to conference the House- and Senate-passed bills, I ask that you retain the Senate-passed provisions that I authored that would help address the serious suicide epidemic in Indian Country in my state.
S. Amdt. 2155, which was adopted by unanimous consent, would require the secretaries of education, interior, and health and human services to report on the efforts to address outbreaks of suicides among elementary school and secondary school students in Indian Country. Specifically, the report would include a federal response to this crisis, a list of federal resources available to prevent and respond to student suicide outbreaks, and interagency collaboration efforts to streamline access to response programs.
My second amendment, S. Amdt. 2232, would expand the authorized use of Project SERV extended services grants to include initiating or strengthening prevention activities in cases of chronic trauma or violence, such as the suicide crisis in Indian Country or gang violence in schools. This narrow expansion of authorization for grant recipients, which would remain subject to the discretion of the secretary of education, would better help restore and preserve the learning environment for students.
One of the greatest tragedies that can befall a family is the loss of a child to suicide. Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indian youth in Indian Health Service areas, where the death rate is four times the national average. I am hopeful that my amendments will help address this pressing issue, and I respectfully request they be retained by the ESEA conference committee.