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Capitol Report: Back Issues

2014

April 17: Just before Congress left Washington for its two-week spring recess, legislators stirred up up a flurry of action on a handful of education policies. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved two bills—with bipartisan support, no less! 

April 1: Education policy has been getting a public boost in recent weeks. That is, after months of staff negotiations and efforts to jumpstart action on several education policy bills, some all-too-rare bipartisan support for moving legislative proposals seems to have coalesced just in time for spring! Although action on a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains stalled, momentum for other changes in federal education policy is evident.

March 4: White House number crunchers are very busy these days, with the FY 2015 budget request about to be released. This year, the Obama administration’s proposal on how to fund all the federal agencies and programs will be delivered in two installments. First, on March 4, the “big picture” is expected—the outlines of broad priorities and new initiatives at the agencies. Then, on March 11, the mathematicians will get really excited when all the so-called justifications will be released.

February 18: Since the president delivered his State of the Union address in late January, NCTM and education advocates in Washington have been working hard to determine which elements of his ambitious education agenda might get some traction on Capitol Hill. It’s clear that the White House feels strongly about increased access to early childhood education, and many elected policymakers feel the same way.

February 4: The president’s fifth State of the Union address focused on income disparity and a desire to give more Americans more opportunities. The speech had wide-ranging ideas on how to do that, and education ideas figured prominently. The president’s first words after salutations were, “Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.”

January 16: As the New Year began on Capitol Hill, Congress found itself focused on some of the work it wasn’t able to finish in 2013. Most notably, those in charge of the federal purse are debating how to divvy up more than $1 trillion for federal programs to be spent during fiscal year 2014, which began October 1 of last year.

2013

December 18: As the holidays approach, the education community in Washington is breathing a bit easier. Congress has reached an agreement that will avoid most of the additional cuts that were due to affect school districts during the 2014−15 school year.

December 3: As Washington and the country start to look to the holiday season and the break that it provides to Congress, substantial work lies between lawmakers and flights home for holiday cheer. Most notably, education advocates are watching carefully as Congress struggles to avoid another federal government shutdown and works to develop a federal budget that addresses the devastating cuts required by sequestration.

November 19: Education policy announcements usually come without glitz or don’t generate much interest in the general public, but recently actress Jennifer Garner joined Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Representative George Miller (D-Calif.), and Representative Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) to tout the need for more and better early childhood education for the country’s youngest students.

November 4: Education committees in the House and Senate are moving forward with oversight on the Higher Education Act (HEA), due for rewrite during this session of Congress. HEA provides financial aid for students and also makes critical funding available to teacher education programs for initiatives that are intended to strengthen and reform these important programs. Read more in the Capitol Report.

October 21: For anyone who wasn’t paying attention, an instant recap: The federal government spent October 1st and the first 16 days of fiscal year 2014 shut down. Education advocates and the country watched as Congressional leadership bickered with one another and the President. So, what’s next?

October 3: In case you haven’t heard, the theatrics in Washington have hit an all-time high. The result? The federal government has shut down. After threats and posturing by both parties in both chambers, and despite the fact that those represented by Congress said they thought a federal government shutdown would be absurd, on midnight, September 30, a shutdown is exactly what happened. Although the issues that have brought the country to this juncture are not about education—they are about spending and partisan wrangling over the president’s health care reform policy—the result will certainly affect federal education programs and the employees who manage them.

September 19: Congress has returned to Washington, D.C., and has hit the ground running with loud debates and calls for immediate action. As widely reported in the press, foreign policy has taken center stage in the short-term, but federal spending debates are looming.

September 5: As classrooms fill up with students and teachers, and football games replace swim meets, Congress will return to Washington and the business of legislating on September 9. Although foreign policy will require debate and decisions immediately, eventually Congress will have to turn to the matter of federal spending, since the current fiscal year ends September 30—which is not very far away. Just before lawmakers left for the August recess, congressional appropriators gave some encouraging signs about improvements in the funding levels for education associated with the current sequester. NCTM and its allies in the education community will be urging lawmakers to invest adequately in programs important to math teachers and teacher educators.

As classrooms fill up with students and teachers, and football games replace swim meets, Congress will return to Washington and the business of legislating on September 9. Although foreign policy will require debate and decisions immediately, eventually Congress will have to turn to the matter of federal spending, since the current fiscal year ends September 30—which is not very far away. Just before lawmakers left for the August recess, congressional appropriators gave some encouraging signs about improvements in the funding levels for education associated with the current sequester. NCTM and its allies in the education community will be urging lawmakers to invest adequately in programs important to math teachers and teacher educators. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=39368#sthash.t1V6DmOD.dpuf
As classrooms fill up with students and teachers, and football games replace swim meets, Congress will return to Washington and the business of legislating on September 9. Although foreign policy will require debate and decisions immediately, eventually Congress will have to turn to the matter of federal spending, since the current fiscal year ends September 30—which is not very far away. Just before lawmakers left for the August recess, congressional appropriators gave some encouraging signs about improvements in the funding levels for education associated with the current sequester. NCTM and its allies in the education community will be urging lawmakers to invest adequately in programs important to math teachers and teacher educators. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=39368#sthash.t1V6DmOD.dpuf

August 22: Congress is out of town for the month of August, so not much is happening on Capitol Hill regarding education policy. And that’s a welcome change for education advocates, who worked long hours in June and July as the House and Senate made some progress on revising the country’s K–12 education policies.

August 7: Members of Congress leave Washington every August to go back to their districts and states and visit with constituents and get some feedback on what they have been doing—or not doing—on Capitol Hill. This year, lawmakers left for a six-week break after having done quite a bit on education policy.

July 24: On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat.

On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf
On July 18, the House of Representatives started doing something that it hasn’t done since 2001—debate a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Student Success Act (HR 5) would rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, but the road from House approval to White House desk is long and full of obstacles—including a veto threat from the president. Although classroom teachers, administrators, and the education community agree that the current K−12 education statute doesn’t work, and progress on a comprehensive rewrite is encouraging, it is difficult to see a new law in the near future, given the discrepancies between the House proposal and the Improving America’s Schools Act (S 1094) that was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last month. Ultimately, reconciling the two proposals will be quite a feat. - See more at: http://www.nctm.org/news/content.aspx?id=38930#sthash.l1Nol7Oc.dpuf

July 9: As Washington settles down from its annual raucous birthday party for the United States of America, a fair amount of activity on Capitol Hill is keeping math education advocates busy. Immigration reform, reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and the budget process are just a few of the issues that NCTM is watching.

June 20: Congress has decided to take on the debate of how to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to improve academic achievement in the country’s K–12 schools. The big issues are familiar to those who have been watching federal lawmakers struggle to complete the task since 2007.

June 6: As warmer weather descends on Washington, D.C., education advocates see a busy summer ahead. Immigration reform, federal spending, and education policies are all under discussion, a situation that has advocates testing their multitasking skills. Just this week, the administration released its plan for reorganizing federal STEM education programs, building on the sweeping changes proposed in the FY 2014 budget request, which was released in April.

May 23: A few weeks ago, NCTM and STEM education advocates were grappling with immigration legislation in the Senate, a looming America COMPETES reauthorization, hearings on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the FY 2014 budget request, and legislation to address a July 1 increase in federal student loan interest rates. Since then, immigration legislation has made progress in the House, the House and Senate education committees have announced intentions to act of ESEA reauthorization bills next month, and additional higher education bills have been introduced and debated. No rest for the weary.

May 8: Washington has been a busy place in recent weeks, and the STEM education advocacy community has been very active, responding to the president’s FY 2014 budget request, which includes a proposed shakeup of federal STEM education programs. In addition, the annual exercise of asking members of Congress in charge of the federal coffers to invest in important education programs has been in full swing. Programs of particular interest to education advocates include Title II professional development initiatives and the Math Science Partnerships programs. This year though, the STEM education community finds itself in somewhat unfamiliar territory—in the middle of a high-profile, heated policy debate. The conversation on immigration policy reform is big and loud, but what many might not know is that it also addresses the state of the country’s STEM education programs.

April 25: While NCTM leadership and members were in the run-up to the 2013 Annual Meeting in Denver, many things were happening on the STEM education policy front in Washington, D.C.. The White House finally released its long-awaited FY 2014 budget request on April 10. It is difficult to say how much of the request will move forward, since the House and Senate have both already started their budget processes for the year, but this administration has proven to be very effective in implementing desired policy and program changes without the help of Capitol Hill.
 

April 4: Even though Congress is in recess until April 9, STEM education advocates and those working on matters of interest to educators have been busy in recent days. Congressional and White House staff have been in Washington working on education and federal spending issues; the results of some of this work will be on display next week when President Barack Obama finally presents his FY 2014 budget request to Congress on April 10. The plan is more than two months late—a point that Republicans have made many times—and will come after the House and Senate have already passed their spending blueprints for the year. Regardless, the exercise will give the education community some more detail about ideas that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama have been hinting at for months.

March 20: Sequestration has been with us for just over two weeks now. The world hasn’t ended, but there have been noticeable effects. Universities are concerned about pending or prospective federal research dollars; college students will pay more in origination fees on their next set of federal student loans; governors are seeking guidance from federal agencies on expected dollars of all sorts; and school districts are figuring out what the cuts mean for the next school year—when the impact will really be felt.

March 7: Despite the implementation of sequestration, Washington, D.C., is still here. But it could be showing a little bit of wear and tear. As has been much written about and discussed, on March 1, the sequestration that enacts automatic spending cuts across the federal government took effect. Since then, education and research advocates have been scrambling for information on what will really happen. Sequestration was such an abstract concept and a consequence so severe that many hoped it would not come to pass. Now that it has, once again, it is math that is at the heart of determining the real effects.

February 21: Mathematicians are in high demand in Washington, D.C., these days. With all the math that surrounds the pending doom of sequestration, calculations and formulas are being used daily in the offices of those charged with figuring out what sequestration will mean for all the programs that the federal government administers. And although everyone seems to agree that sequestration is a blunt instrument being used to solve a problem that requires a nuanced, balanced approach, it’s looking more and more likely that all of those calculations will be required on March 1.

February 5: It’s been a busy few weeks for the education advocacy community in Washington. The political wrangling about federal fiscal issues persists, although both the House and Senate have agreed to raise the debt ceiling to accommodate the country’s spending needs. That deal didn’t come without conditions, though. A key part of the legislation delays pay to members of the House and Senate if they don’t approve a budget by mid-April. And although the House has approved spending plans in recent years, the Senate hasn’t been able to pass a budget since 2009. This “No Budget, No Pay” deal will increase the pressure on member to act, for sure. Of course, Congress still has to deal with the looming sequestration, scheduled to take effect in March in the absence of intervention, and the federal budget for FY 2013. Even though the nation is in the fifth month of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to approve the budget for the year. The government is operating on a temporary spending bill that expires on March 27. In short, the fiscal issues are still big and complicated—and, don’t forget, highly political.

January 23: As reported constantly on television and in newspapers across the country, it is a time of transition in Washington. Even though the family that has been living in the White House for the last four years is staying put, it is surrounded by a great deal of change. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is sticking around, but several other members of the cabinet are looking for new jobs—or for some time off. Even though Democrats retain control of the Senate and Republicans continue to be in charge of the House, there are many comings and goings among both members and staff as the 113th Congress gets under way. While there is little change at the very top, a fair amount of change churns underneath.

January 8: While much of the country took in college football games and recovered from celebratory shenanigans, Congress was in Washington on New Year’s Day, acting on at least some of the various policies involved in the “fiscal cliff.” On January 1, just one day before the sequestration cuts were set to take effect, Congress convened for a rare New Year’s Day session to tackle, and eventually pass, H.R. 8, The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the bill that represents a fiscal cliff deal. The agreement delays the onset of sequestration for two months, extends many of the Bush-era tax cuts, and fixes many expiring tax and spending provisions. To stave off the larger fiscal cliff issues, Republicans grudgingly worked with Democrats and compromised on their tax ideals, allowing the first major tax increases in 20 years for individuals earning $400,000 or more and families earning $450,000 or more. This tax increase is one that fulfilled, at least partially, an Obama campaign promise.

To request a Capitol Report not available here, please email nctm@nctm.org.


 

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