Education Report January 7, 2011

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The Education Report

JANUARY 7, 2011
Della Cronin, Editor

The Education Report, a weekly publication of WPLLC, provides an executive summary of
public policy issues affecting American education. Please use the bookmarks below to
navigate to your area of interest:

  1. Budget and Appropriations
  2. President Obama Signs COMPETES Act Reauthorization
  3. In Brief
  4. New Publications
  5. In the News
  6. About WPLLC

  7. Budget and Appropriations
    On January 5, 2011, the 112th Congress convened in Washington. Following a swearing in
    ceremony where 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats took the oath of office, Minority Leader
    Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) handed the gavel signifying majority status to newly elected Speaker of the
    House, John Boehner (R-OH). On the Senate side of the Capitol, where 16 new Senators took a
    similar oath of office, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) retained his role as Majority Leader, though
    his caucus shrank to 53 Members, while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) added 8
    seats to the Republican roster. Little fanfare marked the events, in recognition of the economic
    hardships still facing the nation.

The first act of the 112th Congress in the House of Representatives was the adoption of new
procedures that will have a dramatic effect on how the House conducts the people’s business.
Speaker Boehner pledged a more transparent, open process of governing. Committees in the
House will shrink in numbers, as will their budgets. Moving forward, all legislation must be
posted online for at least three days before floor consideration. Legislation that proposes
increasing federal spending must be matched by cuts in other discretionary accounts. What
Democrats called “pay-go” will now be referred to as “cut-go.” Speaker Boehner also reiterated
his pledge to cut $100 billion in domestic spending, but he conceded that the goal cannot be
reached in a single fiscal year.

The Education and Labor Committee will now be known once again as the Education and the
Workforce Committee, with Congressman John Kline (R-MN) assuming the Chairmanship and
Congressman George Miller (D-CA) serving as Ranking Member. The membership of the
committee will be reduced by as many as 10 seats. The final list of appointments has not yet
been determined. In the Senate, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) remains as Chair of the Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) holds on to
his ranking position. As in the House, the full roster has not yet been announced.

Just before leaving town for the winter holidays, the 111th Congress adopted H.R. 3082, a
continuing resolution that addresses FY 2011 spending by providing funding for the government
through March 4th at FY 2010 spending levels. In an unusual move, Budget Committee
Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WS) was given the singular authority to determine allocations for all
appropriations subcommittees to complete action on the FY 2011 budget. In spite of Speaker
Boehner’s concession that returning to the FY 2008 level—a cut of $100 billion—is not possible
this year, Ryan will undoubtedly try to make significant progress toward that goal.

Though there were some efforts to strike a tone of bipartisanship throughout the week, the
announcement that the first legislative debate in the House next week is a vote on the repeal of
the Healthcare Reform Act signaled that real cooperation will be short lived. Let the 112th
congressional games begin!
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  1. President Obama Signs COMPETES Act Reauthorization
    On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed into law legislation that would reauthorize the 2007
    America COMPETES Act. In the flurry of bills debated and passed by the Congress just before
    the holidays, the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent and the House acted quickly to
    approve it by a vote of 228 to 130, with Republicans opposing the size and cost of the measure.
    Only 16 House Republicans supported the bill.

The bill and its provisions support scientific research and aim to foster innovation, especially in
the development of new energy technologies. Its champions assert that the legislation will help
maintain the United States' economic competitiveness and scientific leadership. Retiring House
Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) said of the House approval
of the bill, "There is nothing that will have deeper, longer lasting and more positive impact for
our nation than this bill. I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing, for what is likely my
final act on this House floor after 26 years of service, than sending this bill to the president's

The bill is large in size and scope and contains provisions that invest in research and scientific
programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, NASA and the Department of Energy. It also proposes to improve STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics) education by requiring greater coordination of those
investments across federal agencies—a change sought by the STEM education community for
some time.

The 2007 version of the law authorized a number of programs at the Department of Education
that were never funded. The new bill eliminated these programs, with Math Now, a program
authorized at $95 million per year that would have improved math instruction in the elementary
and middle grades by providing teachers with research-based tools and professional
development, among them. The Summer Term education program, which would have supported
summer learning opportunities for low-income students in STEM fields, and a math skills for
secondary school students program that would have helped high schools hire math coaches to
provide targeted support for math teachers and students were also deleted from the statute.

One new provision, championed by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), would support
efforts to replicate the so-called “UTeach model” of STEM-discipline teacher preparation
programs. It would authorize $10 million per year for competitive grants to universities to
launch undergraduate programs to produce high-quality elementary and secondary STEM
teachers. The bill also contains a change to the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
administered at NSF. It would lower the financial match expected of participating higher
education institutions to 30 percent from 50 percent. The $55 million Noyce program
encourages talented STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 math and science teachers.

While some in the STEM education community are disappointed that the smaller Senate package
is what became law, most agree that approval of the package before the change in leadership on
Capitol Hill was good for science, research and STEM education.
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  1. In Brief
    On Wednesday, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) released
    new staff assignments for the Appropriations subcommittees. “We have a historic challenge
    ahead of us to cut spending, reduce the size of government and get our economy back on track.
    These highly qualified, professional and dedicated staff will be critical in achieving these goals,
    and I know they are more than up to the task,” Rogers said of the staff. The full committee’s
    Survey’s and Investigation staff will be led by David Gibson, and the Labor, Health and Human
    Services (LHHS) Subcommittee staff will be led by Steve Crane. On Friday, Congressman
    Rogers also released the names of the Republican members and Chairmen of the Appropriations
    subcommittees. Rogers stated, “Each and every one of our Republican committee members are
    committed to the historic challenge of dramatically reducing government spending and getting
    our economy on a sustainable and responsible path. It is with their expertise, hard work, and
    leadership that this Congress will begin to undo the damage caused by record deficits and debt,
    put Americans back to work and provide for a secure financial future. We have a tough road
    ahead of us, and this Committee will begin our work immediately to accomplish our goals for the
    112th Congress.” Congressman Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) was named Chair of the LHHS
    Subcommittee. For a complete roster, please visit
    _id=250, and for a complete list of new staff assignments, please visit
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  2. New Publications
    "Learning Science: Computer Games, Simulations and Education" (December 2010)

“State High School Tests: Exit Exams and Other Assessments” (December 2010)

“States’ Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core State Standards” (January
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  1. In the News
    “A Once-Stalled Reading Program Drops Old Rules and Helps Teachers Who Want More
    Structure” Washington Post (1/1/11)

“School Reform: A Chance for Bipartisan Governing” Washington Post (1/3/11)

“Accountability is Working in Florida’s Schools” Wall Street Journal (1/3/11)

“Math that Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad” New York Times (1/4/11)

“Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum” New York Times (1/5/11)

“Boehner Takes Reins, Vows Change” Wall Street Journal (1/6/11)

“An Untimely Turn in a School Turnaround” Boston Globe (1/6/11)

“K-12 Funding, Policy on Radar for New Congress” Education Week (1/7/11)
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  1. About WPLLC
    For over 30 years, the principals and staff at WPLLC have specialized in the field of education, making sure the voices of
    associations and nonprofit organizations are heard—on Capitol Hill and in the media. As a full service government affairs and
    public relations firm, we work in strong partnership with our clients to position them for the greatest success now and in the
    future. Working as a team, relationships are structured to maximize the strengths of each client; the client’s mission is our driving
    force as we help them clarify needs, set goals and craft and implement successful strategies. WPLLC provides expertise in a
    variety of services:

• Government Relations
• Public Relations & Communications
• Policy Research and Analysis
• Strategic Planning
• Grassroots Activities
• Association Management
• Meeting and Conference Planning

For more information, please call us at 202.289.3900 or visit our website at
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Copyright 2010. Washington Partners, LLC. Redistribution of this memorandum or its content outside the immediate
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are encouraged to send comments about this publication to Della Cronin at or call 202.289.3900.

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