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House Education & Workforce Committee

Kline Statement: H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:00am

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.
 
We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.
 
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is based on four principles necessary for a modern, efficient, and effective job training system.
 
First, the bill streamlines a confusing maze of federal programs and mandates. Let’s make it easier for workers to access the support they need to get back to work.
 
Second, the bill promotes skills training for in-demand jobs. It’s time to prepare workers for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.
 
Third, the bill will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative costs. We need to stop squandering money on a bloated bureaucracy and start ensuring these limited resources go to workers in need.
 
Fourth and finally, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars. We will know whether the taxpayer investment is paying off and impose real consequences when a program isn’t getting the job done.
 
Last year, the House passed job training reform legislation known as the SKILLS Act. The bill incorporated these principles and I am pleased they are reflected in the bipartisan, bicameral agreement before us today. Is this a perfect solution? No, it’s not. In some areas I wish we could have done more.
 
But will this agreement protect taxpayers and deliver the kind of employment support workers need to get back on their feet? I believe it will and urge my colleagues to support it.
 
Before closing Mister Speaker, I’d like to thank some of my colleagues who helped make this possible.
 
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, chair of the workforce training subcommittee, is without a doubt the leading champion for a stronger, more accountable workforce development system.

Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, is no stranger to this issue and remains a tireless advocate for America’s workers.

I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and hope this is one of many bicameral compromises we reach this year.

I’d also like to thank Representative Buck McKeon, former chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, as well as Representatives Ruben Hinojosa and Joe Heck.

And last but not least, Senator Patty Murray, and my good friend, Senator Johnny Isakson, were both instrumental in our work.
 
Finally Mister Speaker, we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work of our staff. The majority and minority staffs of the relevant House and Senate committees put in more hours than they care to remember.
 
Unfortunately, there isn’t time to recognize them all; however, a few stand out on our side of the aisle that merit mention.
 
Juliane Sullivan, the committee’s staff director, is a trusted advisor who helped us navigate the choppy waters that arose along the way.

Brad Thomas helped ensure the bill addresses the unique needs of Americans with disabilities.
 
James Bergeron, our former director of education policy, left the committee before this compromise was announced, but his knowledge and expertise are present on every page of this agreement.
 
And finally, Rosemary Lahasky, whose passion and dedication kept this effort moving forward when it seemed like it couldn’t get done. There simply aren’t enough words to describe Rosemary’s incredible contribution. We are all grateful for her service.

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Consider Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:00am

On Thursday, July 10 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136), the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), and the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984). As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the committee markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, introduced by Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), will foster competency-based education demonstration projects to provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education that fits their personal and financial needs. To learn more about the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, click here.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), will help students and families make informed decisions about their higher education options. To learn more about the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, click here.

The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, click here.

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

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Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

The cost of obtaining a college degree has risen dramatically over the past decade. For example, since 2002 in-state tuition and fees at public four-year and two-year institutions increased by 51 percent and 35 percent, respectively. During this same period of time, the cost of attending a private four-year institution increased by approximately 25 percent. To exacerbate rising college costs, there are federal roadblocks impeding efforts to provide a postsecondary education in a less costly, more effective way.

For example, regulators and institutions have traditionally used “credit hours” to measure student progress and disburse student aid. This model made sense when “seat time” was the best proxy for learning. However, today institutions are developing new models of education that can measure students’ actual learning rather than just the time spent in class. This type of innovation can offer students a wealth of new educational opportunities tailored to their specific personal and financial needs, yet outdated federal policies are standing in the way.

THE SOLUTION:

As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is working to support more innovation across the nation’s college campuses. To this end, Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project (H.R. 3136). This bipartisan legislation will provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education in a way that best serves their personal and financial needs.

THE ADVANCING COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION DEMONSTRATION PROJECT ACT 

  • Promotes innovation in higher education by directing the Secretary of Education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects. The secretary is authorized to waiver current statutory and regulatory requirements that impede the creation of competency-based education programs. 
  • Provides accountability by requiring an annual evaluation of each demonstration project to determine program quality, the progress of participating students towards earning a degree, obstacles related to student financial assistance, and the extent to which other legal barriers may exist that prevent the success of competency-based education.
  • Delivers greater flexibility to institutions that want to provide students a more personalized, cost-effective education.

To read the bill text, click here.

To download this fact sheet, click here

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Committee Continues Oversight of Effort to Unionize Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders today joined a bicameral amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as it considers whether to treat scholarship student athletes as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. The legal brief argues that college athletes are not employees under the law and treating student athletes as employees is unworkable:

As a matter of both national labor and educational policy, the Congressional Committee Members urge the Board to find that grant-in-aid scholarship football players are not employees… The profound and inherent differences between the student-university and employee-employer relationship makes employee status unworkable both as a matter of law and in practice. 

The amicus was signed by the following House and Senate leaders:

  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN);
  • Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC);
  • Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN); 
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA); and 
  • Primary Health and Aging Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC).

The amicus brief follows a letter Chairman Kline sent to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert requesting information on the organization’s effort to address various challenges affecting student athletes. As Chairman Kline noted:

[At a recent committee hearing] a university president, athletic director, and former scholarship football student athlete made clear that unionization would hurt rather than help student athletes. However, witnesses raised a number of legitimate concerns surrounding college athletics that merit careful consideration…

The committee understands the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is taking steps to address these and other issues to improve college athletes’ education and experience. To further inform the committee, please identify all steps taken by the NCAA to address these issues and improve the collegiate experience of student athletes.

Background: On March 26, a NLRB regional director issued an unprecedented decision that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are “employees” under federal labor law. On April 25, Northwestern University football players voted on whether to unionize and the ballots from the election are impounded pending review by the full board. The committee held a hearing on May 8 to examine the impact of the NLRB’s decision on student athletes and their pursuit of higher education. Members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and the troubling consequences of treating these students as “employees” under federal labor law.

To read the amicus, click here.

To read Chairman Kline’s letter to the NCAA, click here.

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Committee Leaders Issue Joint Statement in Response to PBGC Financial Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Senior Democrat John Tierney (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its latest financial projections report:


The latest PBGC report confirms in stark detail the significant challenges confronting the multiemployer pension system. The systemic crisis we face threatens countless workers, employers, and retirees, and could ultimately harm American taxpayers, as well. We have an obligation to advance reforms that will modernize the system, encourage employer participation, protect taxpayers, and offer new tools to help rescue troubled plans. We continue to work together to find common ground and a responsible legislative solution. The American people deserve nothing less.

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Kline, Roe Applaud Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores: 

Religious freedom is a fundamental right our nation has always protected. No American should be punished by the federal government for refusing to violate his or her moral beliefs, yet that is precisely what the Obama administration sought to do. The Supreme Court is to be commended for reversing the administration’s assault on religious liberty and for safeguarding the First Amendment protections we hold dear. 

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Left Turn: Supreme Court Rebukes President Obama

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:00am
In a resounding rebuke of President Obama, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision yesterday declaring the president’s 2012 non-recess recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional. In response to the high court’s ruling, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) said:

The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress​. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Unprecedented indeed. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Supreme Court handed President Obama his 13th unanimous loss in two years on Thursday, and this one may be the most consequential. All nine Justices voted to overturn Mr. Obama's non-recess recess appointments as an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Over nearly 238 years of American history, the Supreme Court has never had to review the President's authority to temporarily fill vacant executive offices when Congress is adjourned. Mr. Obama's 2012 maneuver to void the Senate's advice and consent role triggered a judicial intercession, and defeats at the High Court are seldom as total as this one…

But the true import of Noel Canning is that even liberal Justices are alarmed that Mr. Obama's executive law-making is visiting real damage on the Constitution. This will not be the last legal torpedo aimed at the hull of his increasingly willful Presidency.

The impact of this unconstitutional overreach extends beyond the Supreme Court’s hallowed chamber. Hundreds of decisions were issued by an unconstitutionally-appointed board and those decisions need to be reviewed. As Chairman Kline and Rep. Roe explained:

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

The committee intends to closely follow the NLRB’s response to the court’s decision to ensure the rights of those individuals harmed by the president’s unconstitutional action are protected.

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Committee Members Introduce Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:30pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee members today introduced the first in a series of legislative proposals to reform the nation’s higher education system. The bills were introduced following the release earlier this week of a committee white paper outlining key principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

“I want to thank all of my colleagues for their hard work crafting these commonsense proposals, and am pleased to see bipartisan consensus starting to emerge,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We are committed to strengthening America’s higher education for students, families, and taxpayers. The legislation introduced today will begin to help improve a system that is too bureaucratic, too costly, and outdated. I look forward to continuing to move this process forward in the coming weeks as we look to keep the dream of postsecondary education within reach for all Americans.” 

The committee outlined in its white paper a number of principles that will guide the HEA reauthorization process, including simplifying and improving student aid and empowering students and families to make informed decisions. The legislation introduced today reflects these important principles for reform: 

  • Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. Introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA), H.R. 4982 will reform the federal student aid process to help students make timely financial decisions about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luck Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the legislation, click here. 

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/HigherEd.

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Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Across the country, tuition costs continue to go up and the job prospects many graduates face remain bleak. It has never been more critical for individuals to make responsible choices regarding how to pay for their postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many students are simply not equipped to make sound financial choices about their college careers. It’s not surprising considering the confusing maze of loan and grant programs students must navigate at the state and federal levels, not to mention assistance available at each institution and within the private sector.

Additionally, many students never receive meaningful financial literacy assistance as they try to review their options to pay for college. A survey of current students and recent graduates with a high level of student loan debt found that more than 40 percent could not recall having received financial counseling, even though counseling is already required before students can receive their first federal loan. Current policies are failing to equip individuals to make wise financial decisions. As a result, many students graduate unable to manage the loans they used to finance their education, leading to significant hardship for borrowers and greater risk for taxpayers.

THE SOLUTION:

To help students make smart decisions about financing their higher education, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. As part of a broader effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislation will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.

EMPOWERING STUDENTS THROUGH ENHANCED FINANCIAL COUNSELING ACT:

  • Ensures students who participate in the federal loan program receive interactive counseling each year and when they exit their education program. The counseling students receive must reflect their individual borrowing situation.
  • Provides awareness about the financial obligations students are accumulating by requiring borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans.
  • Informs low-income students about the terms and conditions of the Pell Grant program through annual counseling that will be provided to all grant recipients.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to maintain and disseminate a consumer-tested, online counseling tool institutions can use to provide annual loan counseling, exit counseling, and annual Pell Grant counseling to their students.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will deliver students the tools and information they need to borrow and repay their student loans in a responsible way.

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Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Despite repeated attempts to enhance transparency in the higher education system, students and families still struggle to access important information that will assist in their search for the right college or university. The federal government provides financial assistance for millions of students to use at the institution of their choice. Yet students and families face a deluge of data that often provides little to no useful information as they try to make this important decision.

To make matters worse, data that is available often ignores a large portion of students enrolled in the postsecondary education system or fails to capture crucial information students and families need to view the entire landscape of higher education. Despite numerous initiatives underway at the federal level that are supposed to provide clarity to prospective students, these efforts often add more confusion and uncertainty by presenting conflicting information with limited opportunity to compare different education options.

THE SOLUTION:

To help provide students and families with the information they need to make smart decisions about higher education, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, this proposal would improve consumer information to provide a more complete picture of all student populations, streamline existing transparency efforts at the federal level to reduce confusion for students, and require better coordination by federal agencies to avoid duplication and confusion.

STRENGTHENING TRANSPARENCY IN HIGHER EDUCATION ACT:

  • Requires the Secretary of Education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard that would display only key information students need when deciding which school to attend.
  • Ensures the College Dashboard includes information on the completion rates of all students, including contemporary students and Pell Grant recipients.
  • Instructs the Secretary of Education to provide a link to the page of each institution listed on a student’s FAFSA to make sure students know this information is available.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to coordinate with other federal agencies to ensure all published higher education data is consistent with the information available on the College Dashboard.
  • Streamlines and eliminates unnecessary information and federal transparency initiatives.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act will take an important step toward strengthening the higher education system by improving transparency and ensuring all students have access to the information they need to make the best decision about their education.

To read the bill text, click here

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Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

For many students and families, federal financial aid makes a postsecondary education possible. The time when a family begins the process of applying for financial aid is critical to ensuring students access the full range of assistance available to them. Unfortunately, the current process is not serving the best interests of students and families. A student’s application process starts when he or she submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who wish to enroll in fall classes are encouraged to begin applying for aid in January. However, the FAFSA relies on income tax data from the previous year that is not readily available at the time students should start filling out their applications.

This flawed process results in significant delays in the submission of FAFSA forms, which leaves financial aid administrators little time to put together aid packages for incoming students. More importantly, students do not learn in a timely manner what their financial aid packages will ultimately be, which makes it more difficult to plan for the cost of their education. Some students may even miss opportunities to receive state and institution-based aid as these limited resources are often awarded on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Further complicating matters is an overly complex FAFSA form. The current application runs 10 pages long and includes 108 questions on topics such as income, expenses, family size, and assets. Some families are so overwhelmed they fail to apply, which disqualifies students from aid they may otherwise be eligible to receive.

THE SOLUTION:

To streamline and improve the student aid application process, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the bipartisan legislation will help students make timely financial decisions about their education.

SIMPLIFYING THE APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID ACT:

  • Allows students to use family income data from two years prior to the date of the FAFSA application. This process will help students apply for financial aid earlier so they can better prepare for their college costs.
  • Establishes a link between the online FAFSA form and income tax data stored by the Internal Revenue Service to automatically input income data into the FAFSA form, reducing the need to manually input information that often prevents low-income students from applying for aid.
  • Strengthens the integrity of federal financial aid by providing institutions more time to verify the income of their students.

The Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act will help students access the full range of federal financial aid to turn their dreams of a postsecondary education into reality.

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Kline, Roe Respond to Supreme Court’s Noel Canning Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court struck down President Obama’s unconstitutional appointments to the National Labor Relations Board:

For more than two years, workers, employers, and unions have lived under a cloud of uncertainty because of the president’s unconstitutional appointments to the board. The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and woman who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

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Kline, Foxx Applaud Senate Passage of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statements after the Senate passed the bipartisan, bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803):

"Today we moved one step closer to enacting comprehensive job training reform that will help put Americans back to work,” said Chairman Kline. “I commend our colleagues in the Senate for passing our bipartisan, bicameral agreement. This compromise is the result of a long negotiation process, and I am delighted it’s passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. America's workers, employers, and taxpayers have waited long enough for Congress to deliver a more efficient, effective, and accountable workforce development system. I am confident the House will send this bill to the president's desk without delay. It's time to get the job done."

“I am very pleased that the Senate has considered the SKILLS Act and used it as the basis for a bipartisan plan to reform the Workforce Investment Act,” said Rep. Foxx. “America’s job seekers need a workforce development system that is focused on their needs and helps them get the skills necessary for jobs that are available now. This legislation will make the system more responsive and accountable, and I look forward to prompt passage of these needed reforms into law.”

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, click here.

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Rokita Statement: Hearing on “How Data Mining Threatens Students' Privacy”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:00am

We are dealing with an issue today that is both critically important and exceptionally complex. 

Why is it so important? As we fight for all Americans looking to build better lives for themselves and their families, we know that a quality education is at the root of that better life. With very few exceptions, a worker will not succeed in the workforce if they failed as a student in the classroom. A strong education system is essential to a strong America. That is why we should encourage innovative solutions to raise achievement and embrace new technologies that allow us to teach children in more effective ways.

We all can see how acquiring data on student performance can revolutionize student learning. For starters, data can provide an early warning to teachers, alerting them to students who are falling behind and need extra help. It can also awaken parents to the challenges their child is facing so they can step in with additional support at home. Additionally, data on student achievement can equip local communities with the information needed to hold their schools accountable, as well as enable schools to share information on what’s working in their classrooms and what’s not.

Why is it so complex? Well, I think we’ve learned by now that modern technology is anything but a simple concept. The science and ingenuity behind each new smart phone, app, computer, or piece of software is tough to comprehend, yet these products have become an integral part of our everyday lives. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if we never heard of names such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

With each new technology comes risk and responsibility. That is certainly the case when it comes to the technology we bring into our schools and the data we collect on our students. Protecting student privacy is a shared responsibility. Parents have to be informed and engaged about what technologies and practices are used in their schools, what data is actually collected on their children, who has access to that data, and the safeguards in place to protect their child’s privacy. State and local education leaders have to ensure they are limiting the data collected to only information truly needed to improve classroom instruction. That means they must limit access to student data to only individuals who are working with the schools to improve classroom instruction. They must also ensure there are strict security protocols in place while ensuring parents are fully informed about the data use policies of the school and district.

And then there are the technology providers, who have an equally important role in protecting student privacy and securing student data to which they have access. These companies must remain vigilant and remember that students are in the classroom first and foremost to learn. Data and student information should be placed in the hands of educators so they can leverage those resources to further student achievement.

Finally, there is also a role for federal policymakers as well. We should oppose any information sharing or data mining on students intended to serve interests outside of the classroom. For forty years the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act has been in place to protect the privacy of student education records. I look forward to discussing with our witnesses today whether that law is up to the challenges we face today, or whether changes need to be made so that the law reflects the realities of modern technology.

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Committee Leaders Unveil Principles for Strengthening America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 6:00pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today released a white paper outlining key principles that will guide the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As part of the committee’s continued effort to strengthen America’s higher education system, the white paper includes a number of policy proposals to reform federal postsecondary education law.

“Too many Americans are struggling to turn the dream of a postsecondary education into reality,” said Chairman Kline. “Our current higher education system is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated. Families and students deserve better. Today we are moving forward with our effort to strengthen the nation’s higher education system. These principles will help keep college in reach for every American looking to higher education as a pathway to a successful career.”

“Higher education can be a great option for those who are looking to take the next step in their career or are simply seeking to improve their life,” said Rep. Foxx. “Unfortunately, the current system has not kept pace with the changing needs of students and the demands of the workforce, and costs are simply out of control. After hearing from students, innovators, institutions, researchers and countless others, I am pleased to put forth some ideas that will address shortfalls in our current system of higher education. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure the federal government supports educational opportunity in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

“Later this week, we will begin introducing a series of bills that will turn these principles into concrete legislative solutions,” continued Chairman Kline. “A step-by-step approach will help us keep the public informed of the policies we’re developing and allow us to begin strengthening higher education today. Let's make progress in areas where there is the potential for bipartisan consensus and continue working together on the areas that remain. It’s time to move forward.”

The four principles outlined in the white paper are:

  • Empowering students and families to make informed decisions;    
  • Simplifying and improving student aid;  
  • Promoting innovation, access, and completion; and   
  • Ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.
To read the white paper, click here.

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