What's New in Washington and Around the Nation?

From the U.S. Department of Education:

There is no explanation behind the final programmatic budget numbers. To read about those specifics, one must get a copy of the Conference Committee Report.

From the Hill:

  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plan to introduce an ESEA reauthorization bill before summer.

  • On the House side, Representative John Kline, Minnesota Republican and chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has said he won't conform to the administration's time line.

  • Representative John Kline laid out his summer game plan for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — which involves breaking the bill into bite-size pieces — in a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation. (Go the Committee or Heritage websites to listen to the speech.)

  • Representative Duncan Hunter (Calif.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, has introduced the first in the series of education reform bills planned by the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The legislation, the Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act (H.R. 1891), would begin the process of weeding out inefficient and unnecessary K-12 education programs. Under current law, the Department of Education operates more than 80 programs tied to K-12 classrooms. The Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act would eliminate 43 unnecessary programs, thereby streamlining federal education funding and protecting taxpayer dollars from being wasted on ineffective initiatives.

  • In the Heritage speech, Rep. Kline said that he's aiming to mark up the program-elimination bill at the end of May, and a flexibility bill in June. He added that the committee would also be dealing with accountability, the issue at the heart of ESEA, sometime in early fall. Kline wasn’t as specific about what an accountability bill would look like, but he did touch on his overall philosophy on the issue. He said lawmakers are asking themselves the question of what exactly schools should be accountable for, and to whom.

  • S. 902 (Harkin, Iowa), introduced the School Building Fairness Act of 2011, to amend Part D (Fund for the Improvement of Education) of Title V of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants for the repair, renovation and construction of elementary and secondary schools. If you want to read his statement and the text of bill go to the following pages in the Congressional Record S2740 – 2743.

Other interesting information:
  • The National Education Association has issued a "policy statement" to go before its Representative Assembly that would open the door to the use of standardized tests as a part of teacher evaluations.

  • A new fact sheet on PK-12 Public School Facility Infrastructure has been written by The 21st Century School Fund and its Building Educational Success Together (BEST) partners. This document answers questions about the condition and support of public K-12 school facilities so school districts increase their capacity to provide high quality buildings and grounds for all children and teachers and answers the following questions:
  • How much PK-12 infrastructure is there?
  • What condition are our public schools in?
  • What difference does facility condition make?
  • How much does our PK-12 infrastructure cost?
  • Where does funding for PK-12 infrastructure come from?
The fact sheet is available on the publications tab at www.21csf.org.

About the Author

Fritz Edelstein is a principal in Public Private Action. His work focuses on strategic government and constituent relations, business development strategy, advocacy research and policy analysis, strategic planning and resource development, and advocacy, outreach and public engagement. This work includes producing Fritzwire, the education Internet newsletter providing timely information on education and related issues. To subscribe, write [email protected]