Monday, April 28, 2014


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From ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development) NewsBrief |

Capitol Connection

APRIL 28, 2014  ::  The U.S. Senate and House education committees are undergoing significant changes in their membership that could greatly influence their priorities and decision-making, ultimately affecting the day-to-day lives of educators.

Senate Education Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), who took leadership of the committee in 2009, plans to retire at the end of this year, leaving a vacancy in one of the most powerful education positions in the nation. Harkin—a 40-year veteran in Congress—has served as a champion for students with disabilities, advocating for more special education funding and early intervention. He lists investing in early education and providing more healthy school meals as priorities for his remaining time in office. Depending on the outcome of the 2014 elections, major education policies will be shepherded by either Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a former teacher who sees a significant role for the federal government in education policy, or ranking committee member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a former Secretary of Education who believes that education decisions are best when left to the local level, one of whom could be tapped as the committee’s next leader.

Meanwhile, due to retirements from the House education committee, several recently-opened seats have been filled. New committee members include newly elected Bradley Byrne (R-AL), who previously served on the Alabama State Board of Education; Mark Pocan (D-WI), a strong supporter of preK education; and Mark Takano (D-CA), a former high school teacher. Additionally, rural education advocate Dave Loebsack (D-IA) has been named the newest ranking member of the early education, elementary and secondary subcommittee. The top Democrat on the house education committee, George Miller (D-CA), will also retire at the end of this year, although his seat will not be filled until after the November election. Committee chairman John Kline (R-MN) has reached his term limit but could remain in his post if the House Republican Steering Committee grants a waiver.

Major legislation regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, career and technical education, and higher education could be determined by the next Congress, influencing the groundwork of educators. Stay tuned as Capitol Connection follows the shifts in committee leadership and priorities.

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