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Legislative Update: ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Senate Marks Up ESEA

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met on Wednesday to begin markup the draft Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) last week. The markup was threatened with delays when Senator Rand Paul (KY) objected to the Committee meeting longer than two hours after the Senate convened on Wednesday. This is a procedural rule, rarely employed in the Senate, that is almost always waived. Senator Paul was concerned that no hearing had been held on the bill this session (10 were held last session) and he felt there was not enough time to review the bill before the markup. On Thursday, Senators Harkin and Enzi (WY) reached an agreement with Senator Paul that in exchange for dropping his objection, the Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 8.

The Committee reported the bill last night by a vote of 15-7. Three Republicans, Senators Enzi, Lamar Alexander (TN) and Mark Kirk (IL), joined all Democrats in voting for the bill. Senator Harkin hopes to bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote before Thanksgiving.

During the markup, Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced an amendment to expand internships and apprenticeships, with the goal of alleviating dropouts and providing skills training. Because the amendment would require locals to use the money for this purpose, several Senators opposed it, but said they would support it if it were an allowable use of funds. Blumenthal agreed to withdraw the amendment and change the language, but wants to be sure that there are strong incentives for locals to use funding for internships and apprenticeships.

Bills Introduced

Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act

This week Senators Menendez (NJ), Reid (NV), Harkin (IA), Stabenow (MI) and Casey (PA) introduced S. 1723, Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.  The bill contains the provision of the American Jobs Act that provides $35 billion to create or protect education jobs, as well as jobs for police officers and firefighters.  The jobs supported in this bill are not just teachers, but any public school K12 employee.

However, last night the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the bill by a vote of 50-50. All Republicans voted against it, as did Senators Lieberman (CT), Nelson (NE) and Pryor (AR). As result, the bill will not be voted on.

Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act

Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Mark Begich (AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced S. 1675, Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act. This bill aims to increase student access to courses in STEM subjects and provide additional resources to recruit, train, and support STEM teachers.

Grantees must include in their applications a description of how their activities will be coordinated with other programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs. Local subgrantees must also describe in their applications how grant funds will be coordinated with programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs.

“If we don’t train our children for the jobs of the future, we won’t be able to compete in the future,” Merkley said. “Whenever I talk to companies like Intel back in Oregon, they tell me that STEM education is key, and in far too many schools, the resources aren’t there to prepare our students for careers in engineering and science. This legislation will help address this deficit.”

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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