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House Education & Workforce Committee

Kline, Walberg Statement on Respirable Coal Dust

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) today released the following joint statement after the Department of Labor announced a final rule concerning respirable coal dust: 

For too long a flawed regulatory process has stymied efforts to provide stronger black lung protections. No miner should go to work without the best standards in place to guard against this deadly disease. And there is no good reason why industry, labor, and MSHA can’t come together to find agreement on what those safety standards should be. 

While we intend to carefully review the regulation, today’s announcement should not be the end of this important discussion. No doubt stakeholders will continue to raise concerns with the new rules and offer ideas for improvement. We strongly urge the administration to engage those affected by the regulation, to guarantee the best tools, technologies, and practices are present in every mine. Only then can we ensure every miner is safe from the threat of black lung.  

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ICYMI: Administration Awarded Two Pinocchios for Gainful Employment Claim

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:00am



                         

Despite facing broad opposition from the education stakeholders, elected officials, and the federal court system, the Obama administration is moving forward with a so-called gainful employment regulation that will harm low-income students and threaten the strength of our higher education system.

In their zeal to gin up public support for its misguided regulatory proposal, the administration is citing some misleading facts. Chief among these false claims is the idea that 72 percent of proprietary school programs have graduates earning less than high school dropouts. Now The Fact Checker at the Washington Post is calling out the department for making such a “bogus” claim:

In straining for a striking factoid, the Education Department went too far. Officials calculated a relatively high figure for the earnings of high school dropouts, compared to other available data. Then they compared it to average wages that likely were adversely affected by recent graduates unable to find employment.

Not only were these two data points apples and oranges, but the entire comparison to high school dropouts is fairly bogus. There’s a reason academic researchers have not tried to compare the earnings of graduates for-profit colleges to the earnings of high school dropouts — it also would be considered an apples and oranges comparison unworthy of research.

Academic research suggests there are real differences in earning power between attendees of for-profit colleges and high school dropouts. That’s also intuitive, suggesting there is something basically wrong with the statistic.

The Obama administration should stick with the facts and withdraw this misguided regulatory venture. The American people deserve no less.

To read the rest of The Fact Checker’s post, click here.

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Committee Advances Legislation to Ensure Workforce Democracy, Protect Employee Privacy

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 1:00pm

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today approved two pieces of legislation to roll back an attempt by the National Labor Relations Board to weaken workforce democracy and employee privacy. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 4320) and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4321) will ensure access to a fair union election process and empower workers to safeguard their personal privacy.

“I am pleased the committee has advanced legislation to defend the rights workers and employers have enjoyed for decades,” said Chairman Kline. “The Obama board is determined to advance a radical rule that will stifle employer free speech, cripple employee free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. It’s unconscionable for Congress to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. The steps we’ve taken will ensure a fair union election process, one that allows employers to speak with employees, protects a worker’s right to make an informed decision, and safeguards the privacy of working families.”

“Today the committee acted not only to push back broadly against the NLRB’s ambush election rule,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, “but also to protect the privacy of American workers. Employees have the right to form a union, but the unionization process must be open, transparent, and fair. Every worker deserves to make his or her own decision about whether to join a union, free from intimidation or coercion—by the union or the employer.”

During the markup, Democrats offered several non-germane amendments in an attempt to distract from the NLRB’s ambush election proposal and the president’s failed policies. “Working families are hurting in the Obama economy,” said Chairman Kline. “Rather than work with us to change direction, Democrats are trying frantically to change the subject. Today’s antics are further proof that Democrats have different priorities than working families. More rules, mandates, and regulations will not provide the jobs and opportunity struggling families desperately need.”

BACKGROUND: In February the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to long-standing labor policies in an attempt to speed up union elections. Under the board’s proposal, union elections could occur in as few as 10 days, providing employers no time to communicate with their employees and undermining the ability of workers to make an informed decision, and worker privacy will be compromised. The legislation approved by the committee will:

•  Guarantee workers have time to gather all the facts to make a fully-informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days.

•  Ensure employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer.

•  Reassert the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers, such as questions concerning voter eligibility or allegations of misconduct during the election.

•  Empower workers to control the disclosure of their personal information. Employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by each individual employee.

•  Rein in union red tape and protect employee freedom in the workplace. Offered by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as a response to the board’s Specialty Healthcare decision, an amendment to H.R. 4320 was passed that would restore the traditional standard for determining the unit of workers to be included in the union.

To learn more about the Workforce Democracy Fairness Act, click here. To learn more about the Employee Privacy Protection Act, click here. To access markup materials or view an archived webcast, click here.


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Kline Statement: Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute for H.R. 4320

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 12:00am

Before I highlight the technical change included in the amendment, I’d like to help set the record straight and review briefly the specific policies embodied in the legislation. Despite what our Democratic colleagues may suggest, the legislation largely codifies a union election process that has worked well for decades.

Not too long ago, former acting general counsel Lafe Solomon described the NLRB’s ability to process elections as “outstanding” and an example of “excellent casehandling performance.”  Our goal is to take the regulatory framework that helped create this outstanding record and make it part of the law, which is the best way to prevent an activist board from upending effective policies through bureaucratic fiat.

For example, H.R. 4320 ensures employers can participate in a fair election process. The legislation stipulates that no election hearing can begin in fewer than 14 days from the time an election petition is filed, providing all parties the opportunity to identify their concerns and prepare their case. The legislation also allows parties – employers and unions – to raise relevant and material issues throughout the pre-election hearing.

I would like to note this 14-day period is merely a minimum amount of time. A regional director could provide more time if he or she thinks it is helpful or necessary. A key aspect of the current process is the discretion afforded regional offices in handling election cases, which helps provide time to foster comprise and agreement. Witnesses at previous hearings testified that the board’s proposed rule would encourage the exact opposite. By setting arbitrary deadlines, limiting concerns that can be raised during the pre-election hearing, and restricting regional office discretion, the board will actually invite more confrontation and prolong the process – something I am confident no one wants to see.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act also reasserts the board’s responsibility to address outstanding issues before a union can begin representing workers. While many of us have broader concerns with the priorities of the Obama board, it still has a job to do. In their haste to rush union elections, the board would take itself out of the process almost entirely by refusing to review issues left unresolved before and after the election. Yet many of the issues it should address can alter the outcome of the election, such as questions surrounding voter eligibility or misconduct that may take place while workers are voting. H.R. 4320 requires the board to fulfill its responsibilities once the ballots are cast and before the union bargains on behalf of workers.

Finally, the legislation ensures workers have the time necessary to make a fully-informed decision. No election can be held in fewer than 35 days from the date an election is ordered. According to the most recent data, the median amount of time is now 38 days, placing the bill well in line with current practice. President John F. Kennedy once argued for a waiting period to “safeguard against rushing employees into an election where they are unfamiliar with the issues.” Republicans whole-heartedly agree, and believe 35 days is ample time for employees to learn the facts and make an informed decision.

Aside from these broader provisions, the amendment in the nature of a substitute contains a technical change to clarify that the legislation applies to all petitions for an election, regardless of the petitioner. By incorporating these changes into the amendment, we’ve ensured the underlying bill will effectively safeguard employer free speech and worker free choice. I urge my colleagues to support the amendment and the underlying bill.

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Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 4321, the Employment Privacy Protection Act, and H.R. 4320, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 12:00am

Today the committee will consider H.R. 4321, the Employee Privacy Protection Act and H.R. 4320, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. Together these proposals provide an appropriate congressional response to the National Labor Relations Board’s proposed ambush election rule.
 
I had hoped today’s meeting would not be necessary. Over the last several weeks this committee has tried to engage in a good faith effort to address concerns about the board’s proposed ambush election rule, specifically the rule’s effect on the rights of workers and job creators.

Under the board’s proposal, the right of employers to communicate with their employees will be severely restricted. Congress decided long ago it was in workers’ best interest to hear the views of both unions and employers during an organizing campaign, yet the board’s proposal takes a fundamentally different approach. An election could be held in as few as 10 days, providing employers little time to respond to a host of complicated legal questions and practically no time to speak to their employees.  As a result, employers will be silenced and debate will be stifled.

We heard a great deal during a recent oversight hearing about the influence outside voices can have on union elections. Our Democratic colleagues showed us a number of headlines from Tennessee. Here is one headline they didn’t discuss: “VW labor leader links SUV with works council.” Citing Volkswagen’s German labor chief, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that a “works council labor board at the Chattanooga factory is important if the plant wants to produce other VW vehicles.” Reuters reports the same union boss has “threatened” to block additional investments in the southern United States if “workers there are not unionized.”

Are these comments an attempt by a union leader to “ambush” workers? Well, that’s not for us to decide today. But these comments illustrate that the debate over unionization is often spirited if not divisive. A vigorous debate can often get messy, but it still provides workers an opportunity to gather all the facts and make a fully-informed decision before casting their ballots.

That is why workers will be most harmed by the board’s proposed rule. Deciding whether to join a union is not a simple decision. The outcome of an election can affect workers’ future wages, health care, retirement benefits, work hours, and other employment conditions. Voters in federal elections have months to hear from all the candidates before deciding who will represent them in Washington. Don’t American workers deserve more than 10 days to decide whether they want a union negotiating over matters critical to their families’ well being?

Several weeks ago Representative Roe and I met with Chairman Pearce to raise these concerns and seek answers to some straightforward questions. For example, did the board consider soliciting public input before releasing its proposed rule?

Does the board seek to diminish employers’ due process rights by ignoring legal concerns that are not identified during an arbitrary seven-day window?

Is the board worried that providing personal information to union organizers will jeopardize the privacy of employees and their families?

And does the board honestly believe 10 days is enough time for workers to gather the facts, speak with friends, coworkers, and loved ones, and make an informed decision?

Unfortunately, Chairman Pearce failed to provide adequate responses to these and other important questions. We also asked the board to provide the public 30 additional days to comment on the proposed rule, yet even this reasonable, routine request was rejected.

We are left with only one conclusion: The board is utterly determined to jam through the regulatory process a flawed scheme that will stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice. Congress cannot sit idly by and let that happen. As lawmakers and the people’s elected representatives, we have a responsibility to act.

The Employee Privacy Protection Act and the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act provide a responsible, commonsense response to the board’s radical ambush election rule. The legislation codifies, and in some ways strengthens, labor policies enjoyed for decades by workers, employers, and unions. The proposals will help ensure employers can continue to participate in a fair election process and workers have the time necessary to make an informed decision, as well as empower workers to protect their personal privacy. I urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

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Roe Statement: Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute for H.R. 4321

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 12:00am

Thank you, Chairman Kline, and thank you for convening today’s markup of H.R. 4321, the Employee Privacy Protection Act. In just a few moments I will address the technical change included in the substitute amendment. Before I do, I think it’s important to outline why this commonsense legislation is necessary.

I understand some are so wedded to the board’s destructive ambush election rule that they refuse to consider any alternative. That’s unfortunate, because H.R. 4321 will help modernize the union election process in a way that doesn’t pose additional privacy risks to workers and their families.

Under current election procedures, employers have seven days from the date an election is ordered to provide the National Labor Relations Board a list of names and home addresses for all employees eligible to vote in the election. This process has been around for decades, long before email and smartphones were available in virtually every household. It is woefully outdated and should be brought into the 21st century.

But more importantly, the current process is dangerous. The safety and well-being of our families is one of our greatest concerns. No doubt many of us have been shocked and annoyed to hear a knock at the door during dinner time or after the kids have gone to bed. Standing on the other side of the door could be a campaign worker trying to get out the vote or a local home improvement company trying to drum up business. Regardless of who it is, we all want to ensure our families are safe.

Unfortunately, some workers have lost that sense of security. Press reports continue to highlight cases where labor leaders have taken extreme measures to enforce solidarity with the union. In 2012, SEIU tried to organize human service workers at a nonprofit operating group homes in the northeast. According to the Cape Cod Times, the union was accused of “intimidating and misleading employees on the job and tracking them down at home.” A union in Missouri was accused of using aggressive tactics against employees of a local construction company. The company’s owner said the union “started making threats of bodily harm, started following me and my wife to our home, started following my employees to their homes.”

These are two examples, but even one example is too many. Republicans agree the current process can be modernized. However, the board’s approach would move our country in the wrong direction, exposing workers to more acts of intimidation, coercion, and even violence. And remarkably, the board would force employers to be complicit in this type of extreme and unlawful behavior.

Under the board’s ambush election rule, employers would have just two days to provide union organizers with employees’ names, home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules. This would ensure unions can contact employees not just at home, but at work, on the way to the store, leaving church, or picking up the kids from soccer practice.

Working families deserve better than this. Are all unions out to threaten workers? Of course not. Is protecting workers from union intimidation a valid concern? Absolutely. The Employee Privacy Protection Act doesn’t stop unions from reaching out to workers; it simply says it’s up to each individual worker to decide how the union contacts him or her. Under the legislation, employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by the employee. The amendment in the nature of a substitute includes a technical change to clarify only one piece of information is required.

Let’s empower workers to control their personal privacy during union organizing campaigns by supporting the amendment and the underlying bill. I yield back the balance of my time.

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Charter Schools: We Want to Break Through the Partisan Gridlock

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:00am



By Representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO)

As strong advocates for parental school choice, we were pleased that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was open to learning about the tremendous opportunities that charter schools can offer students and families. His decision to allow continued access to high-quality charter school options will ensure that the best curriculum, programs and school performance guide where parents enroll their children in school, not their ZIP code.

Nationally, this debate is alive and well within and between our parties. However, for us, school choice is a place where we see the greatest potential and need for bipartisan agreement.

On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee, on which we both serve, will consider the Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act (HR 10). This bill, offered by Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., and ranking member George Miller, D-Calif., strengthens and improves the federal Charter Schools Program by offering common sense policies that both of our parties can get behind.

As the chairman and a member of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, we are in a position to bring together the best ideas from across the political spectrum to protect and enhance our education system to support individual choice and school improvement.

First, the bill strengthens the mechanism by which public charter schools are held accountable to students, families and taxpayers. The promise of public charter schools is that they are free to be innovative when it comes to instruction, scheduling, human capital policies and mission. Divorced from the public school system’s bureaucracy, they are able to experiment, but must be held accountable to parents, communities and the public. By providing incentives for states to adopt best practices for charter school oversight, the bill strengthens this system so that high-performing public charter schools are replicated and low-performing public charter schools are closed.

Second, this bill has a laser focus on quality. Under HR 10, states such as Indiana and Colorado would have the opportunity to apply for grants to build innovative public charter schools fulfilling diverse missions. This program rewards states with strong charter school laws concerning governance, facilities and funding to contribute to building a school choice ecosystem where students with a wide range of learning styles benefit. The bill creates additional incentives for schools to achieve and replicate academic excellence by providing substantial funding to a program that awards grants directly to the highest performing public charter schools. This program helps to seed the growth of high-performing public charter schools in states that have yet to fully embraced school choice and do not have state grants available.

Finally, the Kline-Miller bill supports equity. We are proud that public charter schools, which are funded by state and local tax dollars, do not charge tuition, do not have entrance requirements and do not discriminate against students on any basis. This bill clarifies this definition, and builds in stronger protections to ensure that students with disabilities and disadvantaged students have access to public charter schools. We hope these protections will help to convince our colleagues on both sides of the aisle that public charter schools are a valuable part of the education ecosystem.

For too many students and families, their neighborhood public school is not working for them. This is not a knock on traditional public schools; there are many excellent ones that serve their communities well. Maybe a student has a unique learning need that is not being met by their current public school. Perhaps a student would prefer the option to learn online through a state-funding online high school. In too many communities, a neighborhood public school that has been failing students and families for generations is the only option. This is unacceptable.

Public school choice is both effective and empowering. Families know what is right for their children better than legislators do, and should have the opportunity to choose. HR 10 would strengthen an already effective program by focusing on accountability, quality and equity. This is a place where we are thrilled to work across the aisle for students and families, and we urge our colleagues to put partisan fights aside and do what is best for our children.

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Rokita Statement: Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute for H.R. 4366

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:00am

We talk a lot in this committee about helping people build better lives. Whether through more flexible work schedules, stronger job training programs, or smarter student loan terms, advancing commonsense policies that will make life work for more Americans is a top priority.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act is part of this effort. The committee has spent countless hours exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s K-12 education system. In classrooms nationwide, teachers and school leaders need quality research to identify the best ways to raise student achievement and encourage progress.

As the chairman explained in his opening remarks, H.R. 4366 will help ensure school leaders have access to more timely, relevant, and useful information on the most effective educational practices that will raise student achievement levels.

The amendment in the nature of a substitute makes a number of technical changes to strengthen the underlying legislation. First, the amendment clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences and the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner with respect to the operation of regional education laboratories. 

The amendment also defines an “eligible applicant” within each of the four research centers. The “eligible applicant” can then compete for funds to carry out each center’s research priorities. Both of these provisions will advance our central goal of streamlining and enhancing the Institute’s operations, while preventing duplication and overlap of research efforts.

Additionally, the amendment incorporates a proposal put forth by my colleague Representative Susan Brooks to encourage schools to support computer science and engineering instruction. The amendment will allow the Department of Education’s Comprehensive Centers to include these subjects when offering professional development and other technical assistance to states and school leaders on research-based teaching methods.

Finally, the amendment will clarify the responsibilities of the Institute and the secretary of education in evaluating the efficacy of programs operated under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and take steps to strengthen those evaluations.

The Supporting Education through Research Act will improve education research, protect taxpayers by enhancing program accountability, and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices. I am pleased to offer this amendment in the nature of a substitute, and encourage my colleagues to support the underlying legislation.

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Messer Statement: Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute for H.R. 10

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:00am

I am pleased today to offer the amendment in the nature of a substitute for H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.

As Chair of the House School Choice Caucus, one of my top priorities is ensuring more families have access to high-quality education options. Supporting the growth of successful charter schools is an important part of this effort. 

I had the good fortune last month to join Chairman Kline on his trip to visit Minnesota charter schools, where I was impressed by the energy, excitement, and progress happening in the classroom. Charter schools like Minnesota’s Global Academy and Aspen Academy – along with the many exceptional charters in my home state of Indiana – are encouraging creativity, promoting parental engagement, and giving kids a shot at a better future. I’m especially proud that Ball State University in my congressional district sponsors 32 charter schools, which makes them the largest authorizer in the state.

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act will help more students and their families gain access to high-performing charter schools by supporting state efforts to start, expand, and replicate successful charter schools.  The amendment in the nature of a substitute will strengthen the underlying legislation by making a number of technical changes. However, there are three larger provisions included in the amendment that I’d like to highlight.

First, the amendment will address concerns about so-called “faux” charter schools, or schools that are reportedly trying to operate as charter schools but lack the autonomy necessary to be truly successful. The amendment requires schools receiving charter school funding meet the definition of a charter school, and be free from rules that inhibit flexible operation and management.

Second, the amendment clarifies that schools working to replicate a high-quality charter school model can do so under a new charter, if the state so requires. This provision is designed to ensure the legislation won’t interfere with current state requirements for charter schools to operate under new charters, even if a school is a replication of a high-quality charter school model.

The third and final change in the amendment that I’d like to mention is a provision that directs states to assist students and their families in identifying other school options in their area, should their current charter school close. No child should be trapped in a failing school, and this language will help ensure families have the resources they need when choosing a better school for their children.

For parents across the country, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act could be the key to a brighter future for their children. I strongly encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting the amendment in the nature of a substitute and the underlying legislation.

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Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation to Support Charter Schools and Enhance Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:00am

The House Education and the Workforce Committee today approved two pieces of legislation that will improve the nation’s K-12 education system. The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charters Act (H.R. 10) and the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) both passed the committee with bipartisan support.

“I am pleased the committee approved with bipartisan support two pieces of legislation that will help raise the bar in our nation’s schools,” Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. “By advancing proposals to encourage the growth of high-performing charter schools and help school leaders access more useful education research, we have taken an important step forward in the fight to improve K-12 education in America. These bipartisan proposals highlight the progress we can make when we work together in good faith, and I hope to build upon today’s success as I continue to advocate for a full reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I thank my colleagues for their hard work on both proposals, and urge swift passage on the House floor.”

“These are two strong, bipartisan proposals to improve our nation’s education system,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee. “The Strengthening Education through Research Act strikes the proper balance between rigor and relevance, ensuring education research solves the real problems faced by students and those who work with them. And in reauthorizing the Charter School Program, H.R. 10 course corrects federal investments to ensure quality, accountability, and equity. But this is only part of the solution. More must be done to guarantee that all public charter schools are high-quality and equitably serve all students. Committee Democrats remain committed to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to improve the quality and oversight of all schools—charter and noncharter—that receive Title I funds.”

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, said, “Helping people build better lives is a top priority for this committee. Whether through more flexible work schedules, stronger job training programs, or smarter student loan terms, advancing commonsense policies that will make life work for more Americans is a top priority. The bills approved today are part of this effort, and I hope they will receive the same robust support on the House floor as they did today in committee.”

"I firmly believe that in order to successfully prepare our students for the workforce, our nation’s educators must be able to identify and have access to successful and proven techniques,” said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). “I am proud to be the lead Democratic co-sponsor of the bipartisan Strengthening Education through Research Act ​that will strengthen research, improve accountability, refocus the priority on equity in education for our most vulnerable student populations, and improve overall student success throughout our education system." 

To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, click here. To learn more about the Strengthening Education through Research Act, click here. To access markup materials or view an archived webcast, click here.

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Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, and H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:00am

Today the committee will mark up two pieces of bipartisan legislation that will help improve the nation’s K-12 education system.

We begin this morning with consideration of H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy. This proposal will enhance the federal education research arm, known as the Institute of Education Sciences.

As we have discussed in committee hearings, parents, teachers, and school administrators rely on quality research to identify and implement the education practices that are mostly likely to raise student achievement in the classroom.

For example, the information collected and distributed by the Institute of Education Sciences can help rural educators determine whether a web-based tutoring program will improve students’ reading comprehension. The Institute’s research can also provide urban school leaders with valuable best practices for encouraging low-income students to pursue postsecondary education opportunities.

Mr. Rokita and Ms. McCarthy have carefully crafted a commonsense piece of legislation that will make smart reforms to streamline the Institute’s research centers, improve the quality and relevance of research, and encourage more timely dissemination of useful information that will benefit teachers, parents, and students. I urge my colleagues to support the Strengthening Education through Research Act.

The second piece of legislation before the committee today is H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charters Act, which my friend George Miller and I introduced last week. Similar to legislation advanced by the committee last Congress, this bill will support state efforts to start, expand, and replicate successful charter schools.

I recently had the opportunity to visit two charter schools in my home state of Minnesota: Global Academy in Columbia Heights and Aspen Academy in Prior Lake. While touring the schools, I watched kindergarteners learning foreign languages, listened to seventh graders animatedly debate their Constitutional rights, and saw third graders actually excited to be quizzed on their multiplication tables.

In every classroom, without exception, the children were focused and motivated. Teachers were innovating and experimenting with new educational games and programs, and parents were uniformly thrilled with the results. Charter schools like Aspen and Global are helping kids make amazing progress – and, perhaps most importantly, they are teaching our children the joy of learning.

Mr. Miller and I truly believe quality charter schools are an integral part of a strong and successful education system. We have worked together to develop a piece of legislation that will encourage more states and families to embrace charter schools – while also including several provisions to urge charter schools to share best practices with traditional public schools and reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, children with disabilities, and English learners.

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charters Act will support choice, innovation, and excellence in education. Both H.R. 10 and H.R. 4366 should be an easy “yes” vote for every member here today; I encourage my colleagues to help us move these important bills swiftly to the House floor for full consideration.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Consider Legislation to Help Ensure Fair Union Elections, Protect Worker Privacy

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:00am

On Wednesday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m., the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 4320) and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4321). The markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, introduced by Chairman Kline, embodies commonsense reforms that will help protect employer free speech and worker free choice in union elections. For example, the bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and preserves their ability to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing. The legislation also reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. To learn more about the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, click here. 

The Employee Privacy Protection Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), will counteract the NLRB’s attempt to provide union organizers the private information of workers and their families. The bill safeguards the privacy of America’s workers by allowing employees to choose the easiest and safest way to communicate with organizers during the election process. To learn more about the Employee Privacy and Protection Act, click here

To learn more about this markup, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/markups

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Mark Up Legislation to Support Quality Charters, Strengthen Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:00pm

On Tuesday, April 8 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), and the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366). The markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, introduced by Chairman Kline and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), will help encourage the growth of charter schools. H.R. 10 will modernize the Charter School Program to better support state efforts to replicate and expand successful charter schools and support choice, innovation, and excellence in education. To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, click here.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act to improve the federal research structure. H.R. 4366 will ensure states have better access to timely, relevant, and useful information that can help raise student achievement levels in the classroom. To learn more about the Strengthening Education through Research Act, click here.

To learn more about this markup, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/markups.

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Kline Applauds House Passage of Save American Workers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 3:00pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), legislation to restore the 40-hour work week under President Obama’s health care law: 

The president’s health care law is leading to fewer jobs and lower wages for America’s workers. This pain is inflicted not only on our nation’s workplaces, but on schools and college campuses as well. The Save American Workers Act provides relief to those men and women who have seen their hours cut and their take-home pay reduced because of the president’s fatally-flawed health care law. If the president wants to give working families a pay raise, he should support this important legislation. 

Through news articles, hearing testimony, and feedback from education stakeholders, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce continues to learn about ObamaCare’s consequences for the nation’s education system. During debate on H.R. 2575, committee Republicans highlighted stories that document how the health care law is undermining the strength of schools, colleges, and universities. Click here to watch committee members urge their colleagues to provide relief for America’s schools by supporting the Save American Workers Act. 

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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Urges Support for the Save American Workers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 5:00pm

This week the House of Representatives is considering the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), bipartisan legislation to repeal the health care law’s 30-hour definition of “full-time” employment and restore the traditional 40-hour work week.

Moments ago House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) highlighted stories from across the country that document how the so-called “30-hour rule” is undermining our nation’s education system.

 

Helieanna, from St. Anthony, Minnesota described her dream to teach at the school she once attended as a student. While that dream may have come true, she wrote that her “financial situation is less stable” than it was before the health care law.

Kate from Hemet, California informed the committee that her community college would have to restrict workers’ hours, noting “this impacts our ability to properly serve students.”

Secretary Sebelius once dismissed concerns about jobs lost and hours cut under ObamaCare as “speculation.” Yet for Helieanna, Kate, and countless others, the health care law is wreaking havoc on their families, their livelihood, and their schools. It’s time to do something about it.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 4:00pm

I have the privilege of serving as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. As the name suggests, the committee has broad jurisdiction over policies affecting our nation’s classrooms and workplaces. It goes without saying that both face difficult challenges today.

Budget constraints continue to plague states, school districts, and institutions of higher education, straining their ability to effectively serve students. Workers and job creators are still struggling in a persistently anemic economy, making it difficult for many Americans to pay the bills and provide for their families.

Unfortunately, the health care law is making things worse. Thanks to the president’s government-run health care scheme, full-time jobs are being destroyed, not created; health care costs are going up, not down; and millions of individuals are losing the health care plan they like, instead of keeping it as they were promised.

This reality isn’t limited to just private businesses; it’s a reality unfolding in schools, colleges, and universities across the country. Recent headlines confirm in stark detail how the president’s health care law is hurting our education system:

  • From the Washington Free Beacon, “Alabama schools face shortage of substitute teachers due to ObamaCare;”

  • From the Weekly Standard, “Hours cut for 200 North Carolina teachers due to ObamaCare;”

  • And just in case I’m accused of selecting only conservative publications, from the New York Times, “Public sector capping part-time hours to skirt health care law.”

Aside from press reports, we have also heard first-hand accounts of how ObamaCare is making it harder for school leaders to meet the needs of students. In December the committee asked the public to share personal stories about the effects of the health care law on local classrooms and campuses.

Helieanna, from St. Anthony, Minnesota described her dream to teach at the school she once attended as a student. While that dream may have come true, she wrote that her “financial situation is less stable” than it was before the health care law.

Kate from Hemet, California informed the committee that her community college would have to restrict workers’ hours, noting “this impacts our ability to properly serve students.”

Secretary Sebelius once dismissed concerns about jobs lost and hours cut under ObamaCare as “speculation.” Yet for Helieanna, Kate, and countless others, the health care law is wreaking havoc on their families, their livelihood, and their schools. It’s time to do something about it.

By restoring the traditional standard of full-time work, the Save American Workers Act will help restore workers’ hours and allow them to earn the wages they deserve. And just as important, the legislation will provide relief for schools grappling with a flawed health care law.

Congress should not stand by while teachers have their hours cut and students receive diminished access to educational opportunities, all because of bad policies out of Washington.

I urge my colleagues to provide relief for our nation’s workplaces and classrooms by supporting the Save American Workers Act.

Before I yield back my time, I’d like to take a moment to recognize my friend and colleague Dave Camp, who announced earlier this week his plan to retire. During more than 20 years of service, Chairman Camp has been a distinguished member, a dedicated reformer, and a tireless champion of working families. He will be sorely missed in Congress, and I wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead.


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The Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

THE PROBLEM:

Established by the Education Sciences Reform Act in 2002, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is responsible for gathering information on education progress, conducting research on educational practices in the nation’s schools, and evaluating the quality of federal education programs and initiatives. The information collected and disseminated by IES helps states and school districts identify and implement successful education practices. Additionally, the research allows taxpayers and congressional leaders to monitor the federal investment in education.

However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed. For example, although IES has significantly improved the quality of education research over the last decade, there is often a significant delay in disseminating key data and findings to education officials.  Additionally, IES does not always properly evaluate the efficacy of its programs and research arms, potentially leading to unnecessary costs and redundancies.

THE SOLUTION:

To enhance the quality of education research, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366). This legislation will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act and improve the federal research structure.

THE STRENGTHENING EDUCATION THROUGH RESEARCH ACT:

         •  Enhances the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels, helping teachers, students, parents, and policymakers access more useful information about successful education practices.

         •  Streamlines the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.

         •  Improves accountability and protects the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.

         •  Strengthens privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.

         •  Maintains the autonomy of IES, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card) to shield these entities from political influence and bias.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) will make it easier for states and school districts to access useful data that can help raise student achievement levels in the classroom.

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Committee Leaders Introduce the Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) today introduced the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366), legislation that will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act and make it easier for states and school districts to access timely information on successful education practices.

“Quality education research is critical to successful schools,” said Rep. Rokita. “To raise student achievement levels, teachers and school leaders need good data on what works – and what doesn’t – in the classroom. The legislation we are introducing today will improve education research, protect taxpayers by enhancing program accountability, and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices.”

Rep. McCarthy said, “I firmly believe that in order to successfully prepare our students for the workforce, our nation’s educators must be able to identify and have access to successful and proven techniques. I am proud to note that this legislation reaffirms a federal commitment to states and localities to provide teachers, principals, and educational leaders with the latest research products that can improve educational equity and effectiveness for students without bias.”

In 2002 the Education Sciences Reform Act established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The Institute is responsible for gathering information on education progress, conducting research on educational practices in the nation’s schools, and evaluating the quality of federal education programs and initiatives. However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act:

  • Enhances the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels, helping teachers, students, parents, and policymakers access more useful information about successful education practices.
     
  • Streamlines the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.
     
  • Improves accountability and protects the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.
     
  • Preserves and enhances focus on research regarding educational equity and closing achievement gaps.
     
  • Strengthens privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.
     
  • Maintains the autonomy of IES, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card) to shield these entities from political influence and bias.

To view a bill summary, click here.  To read a fact sheet, click here.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on "Keeping College Within Reach: Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

Student demographics are changing rapidly and remarkably. The days when the majority of college students were between the ages of 18 and 22, attending college full-time right after graduating from high school, are over. Today more than half of postsecondary students are so-called “non-traditional” students.

These contemporary students often have families, work full- or part-time, and are financially independent. They return to school with one overarching goal: to quickly and affordably gain new skills that will help them compete for area jobs and new career opportunities. Recognizing this new demand, higher education institutions are exploring new modes of education delivery.

To help students earn a degree faster, a number of schools now offer prior learning assessments. Students are evaluated based on their existing knowledge in a particular subject, providing the opportunity to progress in a degree program without being forced to first complete redundant or unnecessary courses.

At a previous hearing, Council for Adult and Experimental Learning president and CEO Dr. Pamela Tate shared examples of students who have benefitted from prior learning assessments, such as the Navy veteran who was able to use his military and job training to gain credits toward his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Manufacturing Engineering.

Other institutions are embracing technology, providing new opportunities for students to complete online courses at their own pace. At Western Governor’s University, the largest online-only institution, a flexible competency-based education model makes it easier for students to earn a degree while balancing the demands of family and work.

Recognizing some contemporary students may have previously earned college credits, or would like to earn a degree at a lower cost by fulfilling some course requirements at local community colleges, states are collaborating with institutions to implement comprehensive articulation agreements. These agreements make it easier for students to transfer credits between institutions, reducing redundancy and helping raise degree completion rates.

In Louisiana, for example, associate’s degrees earned at two-year community colleges are guaranteed to transfer completely to four-year institutions. Additionally, some states are expanding their articulation agreements to include bordering states and private institutions, providing students more flexibility and options when earning a postsecondary degree. 

We are fortunate to have with us today an excellent panel of witnesses who can offer more examples of ways postsecondary institutions, private entities, and states are working to help contemporary students realize their education goals. We look forward to your testimony.

Supporting innovation in the nation’s colleges and universities remains a key priority for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. However, as we have seen in the K-12 education system, such innovation should be encouraged from the ground up, not mandated from Washington.

In recent years, the administration has tried repeatedly to impose new, burdensome regulations on the nation’s colleges and universities in the name of “program integrity.” The gainful employment, credit hour, and state authorization regulations have been widely rejected by education stakeholders, Congress, and the federal court system for the simple fact that these rules will hamper innovation, reduce academic freedom, and limit choice and opportunity in higher education.
 
The committee has advanced legislation to combat these controversial regulations, and will continue to explore additional opportunities to rein in the administration’s efforts to impose harmful mandates on students and schools. Additionally, as we begin drafting legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we must include policies that promote – not dictate – continued innovation and flexibility in postsecondary institutions. We cannot allow federal barriers to stand in the way of the services and opportunities students deserve.

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