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House Education & Workforce Committee

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:00am


THE PROBLEM:

Charter schools empower parents to play a more active role in their child’s education, open doors for teachers to pioneer fresh teaching methods, encourage state and local innovation, and help students escape underperforming schools. Despite high demand and an estimated 920,000 students on charter school wait lists, barriers to quality charter school growth exist.

  • The federal government supports the opening of public charter schools through competitive grants issued by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Charter Schools Program. However, the current Charter School Program lacks the authorization to support funding for the startup, replication or expansion of quality charter schools.

  • Few provisions exist to address charter school quality and support successful charter school authorizations.

  • Many charter schools also face difficulty in securing facilities to house their schools, and, once they do, often have difficulty obtaining the funds necessary to build or rehabilitate facilities.

THE SOLUTION:

As we work to improve the nation’s education system and raise student achievement levels, much can be gained from expanding access to quality charter schools. That’s why House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10). This important legislation will strengthen the Charter School Program and allow successful charter school models to be replicated nationwide.

THE SUCCESS AND OPPORTUNITY THROUGH QUALITY CHARTER SCHOOLS ACT:

  • Promotes state efforts to develop and expand charter schools.
  • Improves the Charter School Program authorizing to support the replication and expansion of successful charter models.
  • Supports the sharing of best practices between charters and traditional public schools.
  • Encourages charter schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, students with disabilities, and English learners.

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act will facilitate the establishment of quality charter schools and support choice, innovation, and excellence in education.

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Kline, Miller Introduce Legislation to Support Quality Charter Schools

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA) today introduced the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), legislation to encourage the growth and expansion of quality charter schools.

“I had the opportunity yesterday to visit two exceptional charter schools in Minnesota: Global Academy and Aspen Academy. Through conversations and classroom visits with students, parents, and teachers, I saw firsthand the remarkable progress that can happen when we encourage creativity, flexibility, and choice in education,” said Chairman Kline. “The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act will strengthen our education system and help more children access the excellent education opportunities they deserve. I’d like to thank Mr. Miller for his hard work and collaboration on this legislation, and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to lend their support.”

“Charter schools play an integral part in our public education system,” said Rep. Miller. “In many ways, these innovative schools have been teaching us what is possible when it comes to educating kids—and the work of charter schools helps break down many of the stereotypes that often plague kids who happen to be from the wrong zip code. But we must not sacrifice quality for quantity. Through a reauthorization of the federal Charter Schools Program that emphasizes quality, equity, and accountability, we are not only ensuring that federal funds go to expand high-quality schools that serve all students, but we are also working to uphold our commitment to ensuring that every neighborhood has high-quality public schools.”

Under current law, the federal Charter School Program awards grants to states for the development of new charter schools, but does not include support for the replication or expansion of successful charter schools. H.R. 10 will modernize the Charter School Program to better support state efforts to develop and expand successful charter schools.

The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act:

  • Improves the Charter School Program by authorizing the replication and expansion of successful charter models;
     
  • Promotes state efforts to develop, expand, and authorize high-quality charter schools;
     
  • Supports the sharing of best practices between charters and traditional public schools; and
     
  • Encourages charter schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, students with disabilities, and English learners.

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

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Discuss Best Practices for Serving Contemporary Postsecondary Students

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 12:00am

On Wednesday, April 2 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Keeping College within Reach: Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

Student demographics are changing. The majority of postsecondary students are no longer between the ages of 18 and 22, attending college full-time right after graduating high school. Instead, a growing majority are “non-traditional” or contemporary students, men and women over the age of 25, often with families or full-time jobs, who have chosen to return to school in an effort to quickly learn new skills that will help them compete for in-demand jobs. As a result, states, institutions, and private entities are working to modernize their educational practices through prior learning assessments, online coursework, or flexible articulation agreements to better serve this new generation of students.  

As the committee continues working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, Wednesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine policies and programs to support continued innovation in postsecondary education. To learn more about the hearing, or to watch a live webcast, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings

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WITNESS LIST 

Dr. George A. Pruitt
President
Thomas Edison State College
Trenton, NJ 

Mr. Kevin Gilligan
Chairman and CEO
Capella Education Company
Minneapolis, MN 

Mr. David K. Moldoff
CEO and Founder
AcademyOne, Inc.
West Chester, PA

Dr. Joann A. Boughman
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University System of Maryland
Adelphi, MD 

Mr. Stan Jones
President
Complete College America
Indianapolis, IN 

Dr. Brooks A. Keel
President
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA   

Obama's unfair union-election tilt

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 12:00am


   
​By Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and Phil Roe (R-TN)

The president is waging a public-relations campaign about income inequality in this country, but rather than focus on growing the economy and encouraging businesses to hire, this administration has fallen back on stale, bankrupt ideas that don’t help workers achieve more.
   

The latest is a rule proposed by the National Labor Relations Board to speed up union elections, reduce the time workers have to decide whether or not to join a labor union, and force employers to hand over to union organizers their employees’ private information.

The board’s Democratic majority is expected to finalize the proposed rule later this year.

Congress must take action. On Thursday, we introduced legislation that will prohibit this administration from rigging union elections and ensure workers get adequate time to hear from both sides and make a decision, while maintaining control over their personal information.

Today, the union election process takes a median of 38 days — generally enough time for unions to make their case and for employers to make theirs, and for employees to have the information they need to make a fully informed decision.

The proposed rule would shrink that process to as few as 10 days — just enough time for unions to make their aggressive plug without giving employers adequate time to respond. It hamstrings employers from speaking to workers and making their case to the board, forcing them to raise all their concerns within seven days and essentially forfeit the right to raise additional concerns later.

The real loser is the American worker, who would be ambushed by the process and forced to make a decision without all the facts.

The current election timeline doesn’t favor employers. Unions win 60 percent of elections.

Labor unions are suffering dwindling ranks and need the kind of advantage that can only come by rigging the election. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is more than ready to help out their union allies.

 

If the proposed rule sounds familiar, it should. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia already struck down the administration’s past attempt to rush through ambush elections on procedural grounds.

This time around, the National Labor Relations Board is going even further. The rule includes a provision that shows a startling lack of respect for workers. Employers would be forced to hand over the private cellphone numbers and email addresses, work location and shift information of workers to union officials.

This provision constitutes an unprecedented invasion of worker privacy.

Choosing whether or not to join a union is an important decision. If unions are certain they are best for workers, then they shouldn’t fear an election process that allows workers a real opportunity to make up their minds.

Our legislation will ensure sufficient time for employers and workers to prepare for an election and require the election take place no sooner than 35 days after the petition is filed. It will permit employers to raise concerns throughout the process, and it empowers employees to choose the personal information that will be disclosed to unions.

The federal labor board ought be an umpire rather than a biased advocate. Today’s board fails that test, as President Obama has appointed union advocates to serve in the roles of adjudicators.

In the face of this board’s union advocacy, Congress needs to stand up for fairness to workers and employers.

Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce health, employment, labor and pensions subcommittee.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the House, click here

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Kline, Messer to Tour Minnesota Charter Schools, Discuss Importance of #SchoolChoice

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 5:40pm

On Monday, March 31, 2014 House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), chair of the House School Choice Caucus, will tour Global Academy in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, and Aspen Academy in Savage, Minnesota.

At each charter school, Chairman Kline will host a roundtable discussion with parents and area charter school leaders on ways charter schools support education opportunity and empower parents. After the roundtables, members will hold a press conference to highlight House efforts to support #SchoolChoice and promote charter school growth.


WHO
:        House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN)
                   Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)

WHAT:     Charter School Tour, Roundtable, and Press Conference
                   Note: Media are invited to observe and report on tours and roundtable discussions.

WHEN:      Monday, March 31, 2014
                   9:30 a.m. CT – Tour of Global Academy
                   10:30 a.m. CT – Roundtable Discussion
                   11:15 a.m. CT – Press Conference
                   (Media must be pre-set by 11:00 a.m.)

                   1:00 p.m. CT – Tour of Aspen Academy
                   1:45 p.m. CT – Roundtable Discussion
                   2:30 p.m. CT – Press Conference
                   (Media must be pre-set by 2:15 p.m.)

WHERE:   Global Academy
                   4065 Central Avenue NE
                    Minneapolis, MN 55421

                   Aspen Academy
                   14825 Zinran Avenue
                   Savage, MN 55378

RSVP:       Media planning to attend must RSVP to Alexandra Sollberger at alexandra.sollberger@mail.house.gov.

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House, Senate Leaders Introduce Legislative Response to NLRB Ambush Election Rule

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), today introduced legislation that will protect the rights of workers and employers by rolling back the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial ambush election rule.

“The Obama NLRB is on a mission to rush union elections that will stifle employers’ free speech and cripple workers’ free choice,” said Chairman Kline. “At a recent meeting with board Chairman Mark Pearce, we laid out our concerns with the proposal and its consequences for workers and job creators. However, it’s exceedingly obvious the board is determined to advance this radical scheme no matter the damage inflicted on our nation’s workplaces. Congress cannot just stand by and do nothing. The commonsense legislative approach we are proposing today will strengthen the rights workers and employers have enjoyed for decades.”

“The National Labor Relations Board ought to be an umpire,” said Senator Alexander, “but under this administration has lunged so far to the side of union advocacy that they’re willing to sacrifice every worker’s right to privacy and every employer’s right to free speech. Congress must act, first to stop this rule, second to reform this board.”

“Republicans have said time and again if there are ways to improve the current union election process, we are more than happy to do that,” said Rep. Roe. “Unfortunately, the board’s regulatory proposal upends decades of labor policies to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Even more disturbing, it will make workers and their families vulnerable to harassment and intimidation at home or on the jobsite. Our legislation will empower workers to protect their personal privacy and help modernize the election process. This is a win-win for workers that deserves the support of our colleagues.”

Background: In February the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to long-standing labor policies in an attempt to speed up union elections. Nearly identical to a rule introduced in 2011, the board’s proposal provides employers only seven days to find legal counsel and appear before an NLRB regional officer at a pre-election hearing. During those seven days, employers will have to identify every legal concern or basically forfeit the ability to raise additional concerns during the course of the hearing. The rule also delays answers to important questions, including voter eligibility, until after the election has occurred. Finally, the proposed rule jeopardizes worker privacy by providing employees’ names, home and email addresses, work schedules, phone numbers, and other personal information to union organizers.

As a result of these changes, 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 legislative response proposed by Chairman Kline, Senator Alexander, and Representative Roe would:

  • 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 and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
  • Reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.
  • 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.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the House, click here.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the Senate, click here.

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The Employee Privacy Protection Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00am


THE PROBLEM:

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is advancing a proposal that would jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. Buried in a draft rule designed to speed up union elections, the NLRB is attempting to require employers to disclose employees’ personal information to union organizers. The Obama board’s regulatory scheme would provide labor bosses access to employees’ names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, and work schedules. The board’s proposal is a radical expansion of existing policies that already leave workers vulnerable to intimidation, threats, and coercion. Recent examples include:                      

  • A union in Missouri is accused of using “mafia style” tactics against employees of a local construction company. According to the company’s owner, “It wasn’t such a big deal until they started making threats of bodily harm, started following me and my wife to our home, started following my employees to their homes.”
  • A National Labor Relations Board regional office is charging a union in Washington state with destruction of property and threatening the families of company employees. According to the Daily Caller, the NLRB has charged the union with a “laundry list of violent and dangerous tactics.”

Employees provide personal information to employers expecting this sensitive information will be protected. Most employees would be shocked to learn the federal government was forcing employers to hand over their personal information to union bosses. The privacy of working families should be strengthened by policymakers, not weakened by an unelected labor board.

THE SOLUTION:

To safeguard the privacy of America’s workers, Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) introduced the Employee Privacy Protection Act. The legislation will give workers greater control over the disclosure of their personal information and help modernize an outdated union election process.

THE EMPLOYEE PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT:

  • Empowers 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.
  • Modernizes the union election process. In the age of email and smart phones, relying on home addresses is both outdated and dangerous. The bill allows employees to choose the easiest and safest way to communicate with union organizers.
  • Rolls back the NLRB’s attempt to jeopardize the privacy of working families. When enacted, the legislation would prevent the board from achieving its radical invasion of employee privacy.

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The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act: Protecting Workers’ Free Choice

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00am


THE PROBLEM:

In February the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a proposal that will dramatically alter long-standing policies governing union elections. The board’s proposed rule will significantly shorten the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date by:                    
  • Giving workers as few as 10 days to consider all the consequences of joining a union before they have to vote in the election.
  • Providing employers just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their entire case to be presented at pre-election hearing convened by an NLRB election officer.
  • Delaying answers to important questions – such as voter eligibility – until after workers have cast their ballots, and limiting an employer’s ability to raise additional issues or concerns throughout the pre-election hearing process.

As a result of these dramatic changes, the board’s proposal will stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice. As one committee witness recently testified, the rule “needlessly alters the delicate balance that exists in current law that provides for the opportunity for an employee to make an educated and informed decision.”

THE SOLUTION:

To protect the workers’ right to make an informed decision in union elections, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The legislation will codify existing NLRB election procedures, preventing an activist board from imposing sweeping changes on the workplace.

THE WORKFORCE DEMOCRACY AND FAIRNESS ACT:

  • Guarantees workers the ability to make a fully informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days. Workers will have a chance to hear both sides of the debate and important issues that can determine how a worker votes will be decided before ballots are cast.
  • Ensures 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 and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
  • Reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act will rein in the activist NLRB and reaffirm protections workers and job-creators have received for decades.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on "Reviewing the President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal for the Department of Labor"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:00am

The purpose of today’s hearing is to examine the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Department of Labor. However, as is often the case, budget hearings are about more than dollars and cents. As the old saying goes, budgets are about priorities. Naturally, budget hearings provide Congress an opportunity to examine and discuss the policies an administration intends to pursue in the coming years.

The authority of the Department of Labor governs practically every private business and affects countless working families. It is a great responsibility and one I am sure you take seriously, Mr. Secretary. Since taking office, you’ve shown a willingness to work with the committee on a number of important issues, such as the department’s unprecedented enforcement of family farms and health care providers serving active and retired military personnel. We haven’t agreed on every detail, but we appreciate the efforts you’ve made to address our concerns.

It is my hope that we can build on this progress in the weeks and months ahead. Our nation faces significant challenges that can only be addressed if we work together in good faith, and we all know there is a great deal that demands our attention.

For example, more than 10 million Americans can’t find work and roughly 7 million are employed part-time but need a full-time job. The labor force participation rate has dropped to levels not seen since the Carter administration – a sign millions of workers are so discouraged with their job prospects that they’ve left the workforce entirely. We have a health care law that is discouraging and destroying full time work. More than one out of every 10 African-Americans can’t find a job and nearly 47 million individuals are living in poverty. In the Obama economy, stock prices on Wall Street reach record highs while the wages of working families on Main Street remain flat.

We are told time and again a strong recovery is just around the corner if the president is allowed to spend more, tax more, and borrow more. Yet after $17.6 trillion in total spending and $6.8 trillion in new debt, we are stuck in the slowest economic recovery in our nation’s history. Despite the obvious fact that the president’s policies aren’t working, he has once again put forward a budget that doubles down on the status quo.

This fundamentally flawed approach is evident in the president’s request for six new job training programs at a cost of more than $10 billion. That’s right, the president wants to pile more training programs onto the more than 50 duplicative and ineffective programs that already exist, making a confusing maze of programs even more difficult for workers to navigate. Taxpayers will be forced to invest in more bureaucracy instead of in the skills and education that will help workers succeed. Spending more money on a broken system will not provide the support vulnerable workers and families need. 

The American people can no longer afford to invest in the president's failed agenda. We need to change course and adopt responsible reforms that will get this country working again; reforms that will help every individual who wants to enjoy the dignity of work find a job; reforms that will help ensure no one who works full time is forced to live in poverty; reforms that will help provide hope and prosperity for every working family. The policies embraced by the president during the last six years haven’t moved us toward these goals, and his current budget request won’t either.

Obviously there are stark differences on how best to move our nation forward. This committee will do its part to find common ground where we can and invest in real solutions that help grow our economy, create jobs, and expand opportunity for all who seek it. I urge the administration to be a partner in that effort. No executive order or unilateral action can put the country back on track and people back to work. Mr. Secretary, let’s stop recycling bad polices and start building on the small but encouraging progress we’ve made in recent months to work together on behalf of the American people.

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Subcommittee Explores House Priorities for CCDBG Reauthorization

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 3:00pm

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.” During the hearing, members discussed the committee’s priorities for reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, and examined opportunities to help improve the quality of the program’s child care services.  

In his opening remarks, Chairman Rokita said, "CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.”

“Child care is a way of life today for the majority of families. Times have changed over the years and more mothers are working today than 24 years ago when the Child Care and Development Block Grant was first enacted,” said Paula Koos, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association.

“Across the country, the most recent federal data shows that 1.5 million children on average every month are in CCDBG funded child care settings,” Ms. Koos added. “I believe it’s time to provide some minimum protections for all our children across this great country and to ensure that public dollars are spent in an accountable way.”

A recent review of the Child Care and Development Fund determined states face significant challenges in meeting suggested program standards. Gloria Jarmon, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, provided an overview of the report’s findings.

“First, vulnerabilities exist in states’ standards and monitoring of child care providers that put the health and safety of some children at risk,” Ms. Jarmon said. “Two, weaknesses in certain states’ fiscal controls over obligation and liquidation activities put CCDF funds at risk of being misspent.” Ms. Jarmon emphasized the importance of ensuring the affordable child care services offered under CCDBG do not sacrifice quality or safety.

Linda Kostantenaco, president of the National Child Care Association, expressed support for raising the quality standards under CCDBG while also maintaining the program’s flexibility. “Such flexibility ensures parents the opportunity to find an appropriate child care center that satisfies their needs and the unique needs of their children,” Mrs. Kostantenaco said. “It is this array of choice that facilitates the best partnership between a family and their child care center.”

“As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014,” Rep. Rokita said. “While many of [the] provisions [in the Senate bill] will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families…If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.”

Rep. Rokita concluded, “The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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Five Questions for the Secretary of Labor

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 1:00pm

Tomorrow Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the department’s budget and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This will be the secretary’s first appearance before the committee since his confirmation, so committee members are eager to discuss a broad range of topics and concerns. Here are five critical questions for the secretary that should help get the conversation started:      

  1. Mr. Secretary, where are the jobs? More than 10 million Americans can’t find a job and 7 million are employed part-time but need full-time work. Just as disturbing, the labor force participation rate stands at just 63 percent, a grim sign millions have given up their job search entirely. There are a number of pressing priorities that would help create jobs and put people back to work. For example, the president could work with Congress to reform a broken job training system (see below). Or approve construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Or expand foreign markets for American-made goods. All efforts would enjoy bipartisan support and help get the country working again.
       
  2. What exactly is the president’s job training plan? In 2012 President Obama called on Congress to “cut through the maze of confusing [job] training programs” and establish one program to serve job-seekers. Yet recently the president requested more taxpayer money to fund six new programs. Meanwhile, Congress is still waiting for the president’s plan to clean up the maze of confusing programs. Fortunately the House has taken action on one plan that would streamline the bureaucracy, strengthen federal job training support, and help Americans compete for in-demand jobs. House Republican priorities for job training reform are clear. The administration’s priorities are not.
       
  3. Does the administration agree with labor leaders that ObamaCare is hurting workers? Once upon a time, the administration dismissed Republican concerns that ObamaCare would destroy full-time jobs as speculation. But it’s a lot harder for the administration to disregard the law’s critics now that they include allies in organized labor. Three prominent labor leaders wrote ObamaCare will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.” A resolution endorsed by the AFL-CIO warned the law is leading to “a new underclass of less-than-30 hour workers.” The House will soon consider legislation that would help address this problem. The president and his administration should support this important effort.
       
  4. Will Secretary Perez help Congress resolve the multiemployer pension crisis? For two years the House Education and the Workforce Committee has been examining the challenges facing the multiemployer pension system. A number of large plans are on the brink of insolvency and the federal agency that assists troubled plans is on a path to bankruptcy. Action is needed to protect employers, workers, retirees, and taxpayers. Leaders representing labor and management have coalesced around a broad package of reforms, and the committee is working on its own solution to this looming crisis. However, this important effort cannot succeed without support from the president and his administration.
       
  5. Can the committee expect less interference and more cooperation with congressional oversight? President Obama promised an era of unprecedented transparency, yet the challenge of receiving adequate responses to basic oversight requests appears unending. The labor department has routinely responded to committee inquiries late, insufficiently, and sometimes not at all. On one occasion, the department slipped under the committee’s front office door a CD containing oversight materials along with the password to access the materials. This mysterious drop occurred after business hours and on the eve of an oversight hearing. Let’s hope our new secretary instills in the department greater respect for congressional oversight.

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Rokita Statement: Hearing on "The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 12:00am

As you may know, the full committee recently held a hearing to review the federal investment in early childhood care and development. During the hearing, we explored opportunities to streamline and improve existing programs to better serve children and their families.
 
Today we will continue that discussion as we examine one of the largest and most critical programs in the nation’s network of early childhood programs, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, or CCDBG, program.
 
Authorized in 1996 under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act the CCDBG program provides funds to states to help low-income families access child care. Parents receive funds in the form of vouchers or certificates to pay for the child care provider of their choice, be it public or private, secular or religious, or in a home-based or center setting.
 
CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.
 
Unfortunately, this is where CCDBG falls short. In the nearly two decades that have passed since the last reauthorization of the law, it has become increasingly clear the CCDBG program fails to ensure states develop or adequately enforce the health and safety, training, and inspection standards that are the foundation for quality care.
 
Last year Child Care Aware of America released a report ranking state child care center regulations and oversight. The report found 10 states failed to conduct monitoring visits or inspections at least once a year. Even more troubling, five states do not check the child abuse registry before allowing an individual to work in a center.
 
With nearly 1.5 million children and their families participating in the CCDBG program, federal policymakers must take steps to strengthen the program and ensure enhanced program quality and accountability.
 
As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014. As Chairman Kline noted in our previous hearing on early care programs, the Senate legislation presents a solid foundation for reform.
 
I am pleased the Senate legislation includes language to raise standards for child care providers, requiring states to implement minimum training requirements and conduct annual inspections of license providers. These provisions will help ensure caregivers are equipped to handle common health conditions and emergency situations, while also promoting facilities that are cleaner and safer for our children.
 
The Senate legislation also takes important steps to enhance transparency and better inform parents of their child care options.  Under the bill, states are required to make public information on a range of key issues, including availability of child care services, the quality of providers, data on childhood development research and best practices.  
 
While many of these provisions will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families. I also hope today we can discuss policy changes that work to streamline the federal early childhood system and help increase coordination among existing programs.

If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people, so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.

The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I also look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.
 

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