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House ESEA Debate Includes Student-Athlete Concussion Concerns

Before the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization on Friday, one representative implored her colleagues to include an amendment involving student-athlete concussions.

Right before a vote on the passage of the bill was taken, Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., spoke about an amendment she introduced targeting opportunity and safety for children. In particular interest to this blog's readers, Kuster's proposed addition to the ESEA bill would have involved the federal government in student-athlete concussion management for the first time.

Kuster described this portion of her amendment as such:

"This amendment would establish standards for protecting student-athletes from concussions. I know that many of you are parents, and I have had sons with this condition. Research shows that 300,000 sports-related concussions occur every single year in our schools. Younger athletes are at greater risk of concussion, and this amendment would provide schools, athletes, and parents with the information on how best to prevent and manage these injuries. It would also require parental notification."

The proposed amendment mirrors most states' youth-concussion laws, in the sense that it would require any student-athlete suspected of a concussion to be immediately removed from play. Those student-athletes would be prohibited from participating in school-based athletic activities until receiving written clearance from a health-care professional.

In the text of the proposed legislation, the congresswoman wrote that it would "protect student academic achievement from the impact of concussions." Had the amendment passed, any student-athlete removed from play for a concussion would also be required to receive written clearance from a health-care professional to return to academic activities.

Kuster's motion to recommit the ESEA bill with her amendment failed, however, by a 231-196 vote. She later was one of the 207 representatives to vote against the bill.

You can watch Kuster's full speech about her amendment here:

In other federal student-athlete-concussion news: Back in May, Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced a bill that would improve youth-sports-equipment safety standards and punish manufacturers for making false claims about their equipment's ability to protect against concussions.

A companion bill to the so-called "Youth Sports Concussion Act" was introduced in the House by Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., and Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., on May 22. It was referred to the House subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing, and trade, where it remains.

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