Now that all those campaign ads and annoying automated phone calls (during dinner naturally) are blips in the rear view mirror, we’re getting a little clearer picture on how the election results could impact K-12 education. Complete committee rosters are not fully finalized but key leaders have shed some light on their ed priorities and the Washington scuttlebutt about what can get done is in full swing.
Among the issues that look to be on tap for the 110th Congress, are:
Reauthorization of NCLB with improvements to ensure that schools have the resources available to accurately measure student progress and fulfill federal requirements. In addition, issues regarding highly qualified teachers will most likely be addressed in the reauthorization;
Restoration of funding for key programs (Title I, special education, education technology, teacher quality grants, safe and drug free schools,etc.);
Reauthorization of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which governs the E-Rate program for schools and libraries. The program provides more than $2.2 billion per year in subsidies to schools and libraries for Internet access and other telecommunications services that enable schools to equip students with 21st Century skills and knowledge needed for global competitiveness;
Passage of Head Start reauthorization—which should include goals for school readiness.
Each of these issues dovetail with the key points in NSBA’s “Pledge to America’s Schoolchildren” campaign. Has your member of Congress taken the Pledge yet? What about your senators? All you need to know to get those signatures can be found here.
While NCLB reauthorization has been mentioned as a potential area for bi-partisan agreement, it appears that funding levels for the law’s key programs will play a major role in how quickly the reauthorization moves forward.
Outside of K-12 issues, college affordability is expected to garner a good bit of attention, especially early in the upcoming Congress.
More post-election education discussion here in School Board News.
A look at the leaders
In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will be Chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House the Education and the Workforce Committee will be chaired by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), with the Education Reform Subcommittee reportedly sought after by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) and the 21st Century Competitiveness Subcommitte possibly chaired by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ). Look for Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) to be the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) the ranking member of the House Ed and Workforce Committee.
The bigger picture
The pre-election buzz we noted regarding the revival of moderate politics continues. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Thomas Fitzgerald focuses on it in this piece. Craig Charney comes to the same conclusion in this one. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post urges the Dems to “Remember Who Sent You” in this item about the middle class—this one is about economic pressures and policies, but the parallels to education needs and anxieties are obvious. David Broder, also of the Post, focuses on the center of electorate as well, here.