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Bonnie Sutton

What Does the Election Mean for Education in the 113th Congress? - 3 views

education and the 113th congress workforce readiness K-12

started by Bonnie Sutton on 09 Nov 12
  • Bonnie Sutton
    Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Impact of America Competes Act
    Wednesday, 7 November, 2012

    The day after the elections, at first blush, feels like Groundhog Day. After all the campaigning, spending and voting, very little appears to have changed. President Obama was given another four years in the White House, John Boehner (R-OH) was assured another two years as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Harry Reid (D-NV) will continue as the Senate Majority Leader. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will also hold on to his Minority Leader slot. The only question mark is what future Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will choose for herself-will she stay as Minority Leader or will she go?

    Digging a little deeper, education advocates lost a few champions on both sides of the aisle. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) lost her seat in the election, and Dale Kildee (D-MI), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Jason Altmire (D-PA) Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Todd Platts (R-PA) will not be returning to the House Education and the Workforce Committee for a variety of reasons. In the Senate, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) retired, leaving a vacancy on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-WY), while remaining on the Committee, will give up his Ranking position, most likely to Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

    Turning to the topic of education spending, the Chair of the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Denny Rehberg (R-MT), lost his bid for a Senate seat. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) won his Senate contest, and Jerry Lewis (R-CA) retired. That leaves three vacancies on this all important Subcommittee for the Republicans.

    While several other House Members with education connections will not be returning, in particular, Betty Sutton (D-OH), a former teacher, among the newly elected are education supporters such as Carol Shea Porter (D-NH) and Dina Titus (D-AZ) who both served on the Education and the Workforce Committee in the 111th Congress. In total, there will be 76 new Members in the 113th House of Representatives.

    In the Senate, there will be 12 new Members. The number of women will reach 19, an increase that will surely change some dynamics in the Senate Chamber. Surprisingly, the Democrats picked up two seats, bringing their total majority to 54. Among those newly elected, Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is a former teacher and school board member, and once Congresswoman now Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) served on the Education and the Workforce Committee in the House. Now a Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has expressed strong support for early childhood education and higher education policy.

    While Democrats had a lot to celebrate on the National level, 30 Republicans will be serving as governors in 2013. Several interesting ballot initiatives around the country also indicated a strong interest in education reform and for the most part more investment in spending on education. In two states-Georgia and Washington- the of expansion of charter schools was supported; in Idaho, three laws were overturned that were strongly opposed by teachers in the state; and California Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) successfully pushed through a tax increase that will provide an additional $6 billion for K-12 education. On the other hand, a generous tax increase for education failed in Arizona. Another troubling sign that was noted in terms of state contests was the election of individuals who do not support the adoption and implementation of the common core college and career ready standards. This will be something to watch closely in the months ahead.

    Maryland's version of the Dream Act, making in state tuition available to undocumented students who had attended high school in the state, was passed by a wide margin. Coupled with the poor showing for Republicans across the country among Hispanic voters, many advocates hope there will be support for much needed immigration reform in the 113th Congress.

    While the President was criticized during the campaign for not providing a plan of action for his second term, his priorities for education have been well defined by his first four years. Unable to drive a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) through the Congress, the President succeeded in rewriting K-12 policy through a combination of financial carrots, regulatory reform and the granting of an unprecedented waiver plan for all interested states. He has acknowledged that his pledge to expand early childhood education was not met; he has said he wants to provide incentives for colleges to hold back on tuition increases and do more to make sure access results in degree completion; he says he will pay more attention to parental involvement as he pushes for a rewrite of the ESEA bill; and he is certain to continue to fight for his signature programs-Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation (i3), School Improvement Grants and Promise Neighborhoods. The Congress has a long list of reauthorizations that are past due beyond ESEA-the Higher Education Act, Career and Technical Education, the Workforce Investment Act, the Education Sciences Reform Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who has declared his desire to remain in office, will be engaged in all education efforts the House and Senate choose to promote.

    Prepared for Triangle Coalition by: Ellin Nolan, Washington Partners, LLC (

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