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House Education & Workforce Committee

Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Announces Deal to Improve American Workforce Development System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/21/2014 - 12:00am
Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced that they have reached a deal to improve the nation’s workforce development system through new legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill, which will now be considered by both the House and Senate, modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete.;

WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here.

A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.

The text of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement can be found here.

“Access to training, education, and employment services opens doors to the middle class for workers and helps strengthen our economy. This bipartisan, bicameral reauthorization of theWorkforce Investment Act will help ensure that all workers—including those with disabilities—can access these opportunities. It will provide better coordination and value to our workforce development system,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. “This bill also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities, many of whom, under current law, are shunted to segregated, subminimum wage settings without ever receiving the opportunities and skills to succeed in competitive, integrated employment. It will stem the flow of young people into segregated employment by requiring that they be given experience in integrated settings, and require state Vocational Rehabilitation programs to work with individuals to develop an individual employment plan and support them in integrated work settings. This bill truly represents the spirit of bipartisan compromise and cooperation, and I applaud my colleagues on the HELP Committee and on the Education and the Workforce Committee for their perseverance and commitment to updating this critical law. I urge senators on both sides of the aisle to support this bill when it comes up for a vote.”

“We can’t expect a modern workforce to succeed with an outdated job training system. The current workforce development system is broken with too much bureaucracy, too many inefficiencies, and too little accountability,” said Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The problems we face have been apparent for a long time and I am pleased we are moving toward adopting comprehensive reform that provides employers, workers, and taxpayers the job training solutions they deserve. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send this agreement to the president’s desk without delay.”

“Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find work,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. “Our legislation will simplify that maze, give governors and states more flexibility, and make it easier for Tennessee's 13 local workforce investment boards to match job seekers with the  skills employers are looking for.”

“By revising the original Workforce Investment Act to support access to real-world education in fields that are in demand locally, this legislation will help more workers across the country find a good job or train for a new career. Similar to the legislation proposed by Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa earlier this Congress, this bill also makes job training programs more efficient and effective by requiring that states developed unified plans to streamline and better coordinate these services,” said Representative George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "By strengthening the workforce development system, we will increase accountability, promote innovation, and make it easier to track results, while helping put more Americans back to work. I'm proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop this proposal and hope to see it signed into law this year.”

“Every year, federal workforce investments help millions of Americans get back to work, go back to school, and increase their skills for an economy that’s changing faster than ever, but for too long, we’ve been relying on workforce development programs written in the 1990s,” said Senator Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee.  “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will bring  federal worker programs into the 21st Century, give workers and students the resources they need to succeed, and foster a workforce that American businesses rely on to compete. It’s a prime example of what’s possible when Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate work together to write laws that help our economy grow. I want to thank Senator Isakson, who co-authored the Senate reauthorization bill with me, and all of my colleagues, for their hard work and commitment to moving this forward.”

“This is a good example of what Congress can achieve when we all come to the table and work towards a compromise that respects the opinions of legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill will eliminate fifteen duplicative programs, help the remaining programs better align worker education with available jobs and improve our ability to gauge how well the system is working as a whole. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for passing the SKILLS Act and my colleagues in the Senate for considering this long overdue re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act.”

“Workforce investment and training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and to bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from good-paying jobs,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee. “I thank Senator Murray and my colleagues for their bipartisan efforts on this legislation, and I look forward to getting this measure passed so we can get Americans back to work and meet the modern demands of businesses employees in a global environment.”

This bipartisan agreement helps American workers get back on track by promoting sector strategies and career pathways that lead to good jobs and postsecondary education in our nation's public workforce training and adult education system,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX),  ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill makes certain that the connection between adult education, postsecondary education and the workforce is strengthened. We as a nation must be inclusive in our workforce, and this bill provides better services to workers young and old, with disabilities, and to those populations that have significant barriers to employment. It also addresses the need to improve services for English language learners that will ease their participation into our nation's workforce. I am pleased to see the progress we are making in the Senate and in the House and look forward to having this bill signed into law.”

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ICYMI: Press Reports Highlight Hearing on Harmful Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on Thursday to examine a recent National Labor Relations Board decision to define certain student athletes “employees.” As various news reports show, members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and expressed concerns that unionization would hurt students’ athletic and academic careers:

The debate over whether college athletes have the right to unionize moved to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, with witnesses that included Baylor University President Ken Starr voicing opposition… The hearing was prompted by a U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional director's decision in March that Northwestern University's scholarship football players could vote on joining a union. – Reuters, U.S. House hears witnesses opposed to union for college athletes

"Can the NCAA and institutions do more to protect students? Absolutely," Kline said. "Does that mean unionizing student athletes is the answer? Absolutely
not"…Would players go on strike, Kline asked, and how could that affect their academic pursuits? How could smaller colleges feasibly manage labor unions, and would institutions have to cut non-revenue sports or raise tuition to pay for labor relations? Could unionization therefore make it harder for some students to access a quality education? – Politico Pro, Kline on Athletes: ‘Forming a union is not the answer’

Rep. John P. Kline Jr., a Minnesota Republican and chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said the conditions faced by athletes should be dealt with "in a way that protects the athletic and academic integrity of higher education." "The recent NLRB decision…takes a fundamentally different approach that could make it harder for some students to access a quality education." – Chronicle of Higher Education, Battle Over College-Athlete Labor Unions Flares Up at House Hearing

In his prepared remarks, Chancellor Ken Starr called the recent NLRB decision “misguided.”…“Will debate students who are obliged not only to practice, but to conduct research, likewise be considered employees because performance is not part of a narrowly defined educational experience…Simply put, the [Northwestern] decision will result in uncertainty and instability across the higher education landscape.” – Dallas Morning News, Baylor president Ken Starr to testify about unions for college athletes

The top House Republican on labor issues says Northwestern University's football team would set a “dangerous precedent” by organizing the first union for students athletes…[Chairman John Kline stated,] “perhaps the union would seek to bargain over the number of games. If management and the union are at an impasse, would players go on strike? Would student athletes on strike attend class and have access to financial aid?” – The Hill, GOP: Northwestern football union 'dangerous precedent'

Starr said that negotiating improvements for athletes would create an unequal system in which the university would have to treat some of its athletes differently depending on whether they qualified to be part of the union. He said that it would also undermine the supportive relationship that the university’s coaches and faculty have with the players because it would require the university to discuss issues with union representatives, not necessarily the players themselves. – Inside Higher Ed, The Politics of Player Unions

Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir, told the committee that if his school's athletes were allowed to unionize, the school "might opt not to compete at the level we are competing in." And in an interview with USA TODAY Sports after the hearing, he was unequivocal: "If (Stanford's athletes) are deemed employees, we will opt for a different model." – USA Today, House panel grills college leaders on unionization

Patrick Eilers, a former safety in the National Football League for the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bears, told the panel "the crux of the problem is that student-athletes should be students, first and foremost, as the description suggests. I'm concerned that calling student-athletes 'employees' will make the system more of a business than it already is…I was a student-athlete at Notre Dame. Period. I was not an employee of the university, nor did I want to be one." – Associated Press, Witnesses Oppose NLRB Ruling on College Athletes

[Attorney, Bradford Livingston] told the committee that …the NLRA “is simply not an appropriate vehicle” for resolving disputes between universities and scholarship athletes…The lawyer also observed that in Northwestern, “walk-on” players without football scholarships were not allowed to vote on union representation. Other universities may face union organizing drives aimed at some, but not all, of their players, he said. – Bloomberg BNA, Witnesses Cite Concern for College Athletes But Disagree About Collective Bargaining

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Kline, Miller Praise Passage of Charter School Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today approved the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10) with strong bipartisan support in a vote of 360 to 45. Introduced by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senior Democratic Member George Miller (D-CA), the legislation supports state efforts to start, expand, and replicate high-performing charter schools.

“As we work to help more students access a quality education, we must support charter schools as a valuable alternative to failing public schools,” Chairman Kline said. “The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a bipartisan initiative that will encourage the growth of charter schools and provide a new avenue of hope for children and their families. I want to thank my friend and colleague, Mr. Miller, for working with me to craft this legislation and helping us garner such overwhelming support both on the House floor and in the education community. But our work to provide more education options for students isn’t done yet. I encourage my Senate colleagues to join us in supporting the charter school movement by bringing this important proposal up for a vote without delay.”

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that every child in every neighborhood has access to a high-quality public education,” said Rep. Miller. “By harnessing the innovations coming out of public charter schools, replicating their successes, and sharing those lessons with non-charter schools, we can help make the promise of a quality public school for every child a reality. In particular, this legislation supports students who are traditionally underserved by charter schools, including those with disabilities and English-language learners, so that they can enjoy the same opportunities to succeed.”  

To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, click here.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

College sports have become a favored pastime for millions of Americans. Whether filling out a tournament bracket, tailgating on a Saturday afternoon, or simply cheering on an alma mater, for many fans, college sports is a way to spend time with loved ones and stay connected with old friends.

Where fans are known for their loyalty, student athletes are renowned for their passion and talent and look to leverage their athletic ability in pursuit of different dreams. For some, competing at the collegiate level is a step toward a career in professional sports. For others – in fact, for most student athletes – playing a college sport is a ticket to an education they simply couldn’t access without an athletic scholarship.

Regardless of why student athletes play, their dreams can be turned upside down by a sports-related injury. When that happens, institutions must step up and provide the health care and academic support the student needs. Most institutions are doing just that and standing by their athletes for the long-haul, but some are not. No student athlete injured while representing their school on the field should be left behind because of the misplaced priorities of a college or university.

Can the NCAA and institutions do more to protect students? Absolutely. They could start by giving students a greater role in shaping policies that govern college athletics. They could also work to help ensure a sports injury doesn’t end a student’s academic career and find a responsible solution that will deliver the health care injured players may need. While promoting change is often difficult, student athletes deserve a determined effort to address these concerns.

Does that mean unionizing student athletes is the answer? Absolutely not. When he signed the National Labor Relations Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “A better relationship between labor and management is the high purpose of this Act.” It’s hard to imagine President Roosevelt thought the law would one day apply to the relationship between student athletes and academic institutions, yet that is precisely where we are.

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled football players at Northwestern University are “employees” of the school for the purpose of collective bargaining. The ballots cast in an April 25th election have been impounded pending review by the full board. Given the track record of the Obama NLRB, I suspect the board will rubber stamp the regional director’s decision, setting a dangerous precedent for colleges and universities nationwide. In the meantime, schools, athletic organizations, students, and the public are searching for answers to countless questions stemming from this unprecedented ruling.

For example, what issues would a union representing college athletes raise at the bargaining table? Would a union negotiate over the number and length of practices? Perhaps the union would seek to bargain over the number of games. If management and the union are at an impasse, would players go on strike? Would student athletes on strike attend class and have access to financial aid?

How would student athletes provide financial support to the union? Would dues be deducted from scholarships before being disbursed to students? Or are students expected to pay out of pocket? We know many student athletes struggle financially. How will they shoulder the cost of joining a union?

Speaking of costs, where will smaller colleges and universities find the resources to manage labor relations with student athletes? A lot of institutions operate on thin margins and college costs are soaring. Are these schools ready to make some difficult decisions, such as cutting support to other athletic programs like lacrosse and field hockey, or even raising tuition?

And finally, how will other NLRB policies affect our higher education system? Are college campuses prepared for micro-unions and ambush elections? Are administrators equipped to bargain with competing unions representing different athletic programs? Will students be able to make an informed decision about joining a union in as few as 10 days, while attending class and going to practice?

These are tough questions that should be discussed before students and administrators are forced to confront a radical departure from long-standing policies. We share the concerns of players that progress is too slow, but forming a union is not the answer; treating student athletes as something they are not is not the answer.

The challenges facing student athletes should be addressed in a way that protects the athletic and academic integrity of higher education. The recent NLRB decision takes a fundamentally different approach that could make it harder for some students to access a quality education. I strongly urge the Obama board to change course and encourage key stakeholders to get to work.

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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Speaks in Support of Bipartisan Charter School Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 7:54pm

The House of Representatives is currently debating the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), legislation to bolster local charter school initiatives, aid the expansion and replication of successful charter school models, and improve charter school accessibility for some of the country’s most disadvantaged students.

Moments ago, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) highlighted the benefits of charter schools, and described how H.R. 10 will help more students and their families access these innovative institutions.

 

Charter schools have a proven track record of success, encouraging higher academic achievement in even the most troubled school districts. I recently had the opportunity to visit two impressive charter schools in my home state of Minnesota. At both of the schools, without exception, students were engaged, excited, and eager to learn.

I know firsthand this is not a trend unique to charter schools in Minnesota. In fact, each time I visit quality charter schools, whether here in Washington, D.C. or in Prior Lake, Minnesota or even Harlem, New York, I’ve been amazed by the creative curriculum, the outstanding educators, and the students’ incredible progress.

Clearly, these institutions are a valuable part of a successful education system. However, the federal Charter School Program is in need of key reforms to enhance access and ensure continued educational quality. That’s why I partnered with my colleague, the Senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.

To read Chairman Kline’s full remarks, click here. To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/qualitycharters/

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House Approves Legislation to Enhance Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 7:00pm

The House of Representatives today approved the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) with bipartisan support. Introduced by Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), the bill reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act and makes it easier for states and school districts to access timely information on successful education practices. 

“Teachers and school leaders need quality research to identify the best ways to raise student achievement, and families need information as they evaluate their education options,” said Rep. Rokita. “The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective educational practices. The legislation will also take steps to protect taxpayers by streamlining the education research system and improving program accountability. I am pleased this responsible bill received bipartisan support in the House and look forward to its consideration in the Senate.”

As approved by the House, the Strengthening Education through Research Act will:

  • Enhance 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.
  • Streamline the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.
  • Improve accountability and protect the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.
  • Strengthen privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.
  • Maintain 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 learn more about the Strengthening Education through Research Act, click here.

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Rokita Statement: H.R. 4366, Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

More than a decade ago, Congress approved the Education Sciences Reform Act, legislation that established the Institute of Education Sciences to gather information on education progress, conduct research on education practices in schools, and evaluate the effectiveness of federal education programs and initiatives.

Like many of my colleagues, I believe the federal government’s role in education needs to be significantly reduced.  That is why we passed the Student Success Act last summer, comprehensive education reform legislation that will shrink the federal footprint in the classroom and return control to the parents, teachers, and community leaders who know our children best. 

While we continue to await Senate action on the Student Success Act, we have additional opportunities to act on commonsense proposals that will make the federal role in education more effective and efficient. The research produced by the Institute sheds critical light on how taxpayer dollars are being used in our education system, and can provide important information on what is and is not working in our schools.

The Strengthening 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.

This law provides information that helps states and school districts identify successful education practices, and allows taxpayers and congressional leaders to monitor the federal investment in education. However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, with several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed.

For example, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the Institute does not always properly evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and research arms. This could lead to unnecessary costs and redundancies, something we must be particularly wary of in these times of fiscal restraint. Additionally, although the Institute has dramatically improved the quality of education research in recent years, there is often a significant delay in disseminating key data and findings to education leaders nationwide.

The Supporting Education through Research Act will address these weaknesses and help school leaders access more timely, relevant, and useful information on the most effective educational practices.

First, H.R. 4366 will enhance the relevancy of education research, ensuring teachers, students, parents, and policymakers can access more useful information about successful education practices.

Second, the legislation will take steps to streamline the education research system and reduce overlap and duplicative research efforts.  The bill will also require the Institute to regularly evaluate its research and review the efficacy of federal education programs, ensuring taxpayer resources are being put to good use.

Finally, H.R. 4366 will ensure the Institute and the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers the Nation’s Report Card, remain autonomous entities that are free from political influence and bias.

Not only does this legislation help teachers, school leaders, and state and local governments, it also helps families.  Families, particularly military families, can change school districts several times during their child’s education. Our experience with the free market tells us informed consumers are better consumers. As consumers of education, families deserve the best information possible in making decisions regarding their child’s education.

The Strengthening 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 urge my colleagues to support the Strengthening Education through Research Act.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

For many children and their parents, charter schools are a beacon of hope for a better education – and a better life.  The schools are extraordinarily in demand; waitlists for charter schools have grown steadily in recent years, with more than one million students’ names on waitlists for the 2013-2014 school year.

Charter schools have a proven track record of success, encouraging higher academic achievement in even the most troubled school districts. I recently had the opportunity to visit two impressive charter schools in my home state of Minnesota. At both of the schools, without exception, students were engaged, excited, and eager to learn.

I know firsthand this is not a trend unique to charter schools in Minnesota. In fact, each time I visit quality charter schools, whether here in Washington, D.C. or in Prior Lake, Minnesota or even Harlem, New York, I’ve been amazed by the creative curriculum, the outstanding educators, and the students’ incredible progress.

Clearly, these institutions are a valuable part of a successful education system. However, the federal Charter School Program is in need of key reforms to enhance access and ensure continued educational quality. That’s why I partnered with my colleague, the Senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.

This bipartisan legislation will encourage more states and families to embrace charter schools – while also including several provisions to urge these schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, children with disabilities, and English learners.

The bill will streamline the federal charter school program, while ensuring these institutions remain accountable to families and taxpayers. The bill also expands the allowable use of federal resources to support not just new charter schools, as under current law, but also the replication and expansion of successful charter schools.

Additionally, H.R. 10 will direct charter schools to share best practices with traditional public schools, helping to ensure school leaders are working together to implement successful education practices throughout the community.

Madam/ Mister Speaker, as we work to help more students access a quality education, we must support charter schools as a valuable alternative to failing public schools, and work together to encourage their growth. The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a commonsense proposal that will improve educational opportunities for students across the board and provide families with additional school choice options.

I am very pleased members of the Education and the Workforce Committee have put their differences aside and worked through a very bipartisan process to develop an exceptional piece of legislation. I’d like to thank members and staff for these efforts, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join with us in supporting legislation that can have a hugely positive effect on children nationwide.

Committee Examines Troubling Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing entitled, “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes.” During the hearing, members listened as a higher education administrator, athletic director, and former student athlete discussed the negative effects of a recent National Labor Relations Board decision allowing the unionization of student athletes.

“Today’s witnesses confirmed classifying student athletes as school ‘employees’ will hurt their athletic and academic careers,” said Chairman Kline. “There is no question the legitimate concerns of student athletes must be addressed, but doing so at the collective bargaining table will do more harm than good. It’s encouraging to hear from institutions with policies in place that put student athletes first, such as providing continued academic support to students who sustain a sports injury. We need all institutions to step up and follow suit. Instead of treating student athletes as something they are not, let’s help ensure the real challenges they face are resolved.”

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

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TODAY: Charter Schools Week Press Conference

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 12:00am
Today at 4:00p.m., House Republican leaders will hold a press conference to discuss the important role quality charter schools play in the nation's education system. The press conference will also highlight the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act(H.R. 10), legislation that will support the growth and expansion of high-performing charter schools. H.R. 10 is expected to come before the House for a vote later this week.

WHAT: Charter Schools Week press conference in advance of the House vote on the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.
 
WHO:
 
• Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
• Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
• Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
• Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
• Chairman John Kline (R-MN)
• Local Charter School Teachers & Students

WHEN:  **TODAY** Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 4:00p.m. ET

WHERE: Rayburn Room, U.S. Capitol

**NOTE: A mult box will be provided on-site and media will be allowed to set up beginning at 2:00p.m.**

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INFOGRAPHIC: The Growing Demand for Quality Charter Schools

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 3:00pm

To kick off the 15th annual National Charter Schools Week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee has put together an infographic to highlight the growing demand for quality charter schools:

                                               

 

The charter school movement has grown significantly since it began more than twenty years ago. But with more than one million students' names  on charter school waitlists, it is increasingly clear charter schools need a revamped federal law that will make it easier to start, replicate, and expand quality charter schools to better meet the needs of students and their families.

That’s why House Republicans and Democrats have joined together to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act  (H.R. 10). Introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), this bipartisan legislation will support the growth of successful charter schools and help ensure more children have access to these innovative institutions.

To learn more about H.R. 10, visit edworkforce.house.gov/qualitycharters

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ICYMI: Kline bill would give charter schools a boost

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 12:00am

 


Proponents created public charter schools, in part, to use them to incubate new educational approaches, then replicate the successes. Charters started in Minnesota about 20 years ago, and today there are thousands of them with nearly a million students nationwide.

But not nearly enough of the highest-quality programs have been emulated. For a variety of reasons, few schools have used the best charter school strategies to improve learning for more students.

That’s why a proposed federal bill that would encourage states and districts to help grow high-quality charter programs merits support. The measure was sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who serves as chairman of the House education committee, and U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the panel, which passed the bill in a 36-3 vote last month.

Charter programs are public schools that are created and operated outside traditional public school districts by independent boards. Under state law, charters can set some of their own labor and curriculum rules to find innovative ways to improve student achievement.

Currently, the federal Department of Education operates two general grant programs for charter schools. Under the new bill, called the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, those programs would be consolidated into one and refocused. The DOE would continue to award grants to high-quality charters and facilities assistance through the states.

However, a significant difference is that the bill would expand an existing DOE grant competition for charter management organizations. That would open up opportunities for charters in states that don’t win or compete for federal funding.

The measure also clarifies states’ ability to use “weighted lotteries,” which give preference to low-income students and other disadvantaged children in admissions. In addition, it would allow students who graduate from one charter school to continue in an affiliated school in higher grades without having to go back through a lottery.

And the federal department could more actively disseminate information about successful programs to help other public schools improve.

The revamped program would wisely offer incentives for states to help develop charters and make it easier for the successful ones to open more schools. Currently, charter operators can get federal grants to open new schools, but not to expand existing, successful models.

And Kline’s bill would increase federal financial support for charters. It would authorize about $300 million per year in spending on help for charters, up from the roughly $250 million spent in the most recent budget.

Charter opponents note that the proposal fails to address concerns about failing charters — though the bill states that funding goes only to high-quality, effective schools. As the congressman points out, states and authorizers have and must use the ability to close programs that aren’t working.

Nearly the same legislation was proposed in 2011 as part of the much-needed overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act. The charter school portion had broad bipartisan support then. But the larger bill to renew NCLB never made it to the Senate floor.

The House and Senate have not been able to reach agreement on an overall education bill — even though the reauthorization is several years overdue. And while it would be preferable get the larger bill done, passing the smaller charter school portion would be better than getting nothing at all accomplished.

Kline’s bill is scheduled to be heard on the House floor this week, which also happens to be National Charter Schools Week. That should be perfect timing for legislation that would help charters fulfill the lofty goals of their supporters.

NOTE: According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, approximately 2.5 million children are enrolled in charter schools nationwide.

To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which the House is expected to consider later this week, click here.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Kline Announces Hearing on Union Efforts to Organize Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 2:30pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today announced the committee will examine a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that classifies certain student athletes as “employees” for the purposes of collective bargaining. The hearing, entitled "Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes," will take place on Thursday, May 8 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building.

“The NLRB’s decision represents a radical departure from longstanding federal labor policies,” said Chairman Kline. “Classifying student athletes as employees threatens to fundamentally alter college sports, as well as reduce education access and opportunity. The committee has a responsibility to thoroughly examine how the NLRB’s decision will affect students and their ability to receive a quality education.” 

BACKGROUND: On March 26, in Northwestern University, the NLRB Regional Director for Region 13 found “grant-in-aid scholarship players for [Northwestern University’s] football team who have not exhausted their play eligibility are ‘employees’ under [the National Labor Relations Act].” The Regional Director ordered a representational election to determine whether a majority of the scholarship athletes support the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), a new union formed with the support of and funding from the United Steelworkers. On April 25, the student athletes at Northwestern University voted in the representational election; however, the ballots have been impounded pending appeal to the full board.   

To learn more about the hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.  

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Kline Delivers Remarks on Multiemployer Pension Reform at Bloomberg Government Event

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:00am

Good morning. I appreciate that kind introduction and would like to begin by extending my thanks to Bloomberg Government for hosting us this morning, as well as to the Quality Construction Alliance for its support of today’s event. You are shining light on an important issue that frankly hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

President Reagan once said that “status quo… is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’” I would like to discuss for a few moments the mess we face in the multiemployer pension system and the urgent need to enact bold reforms.

Why is multiemployer pension reform so important? Because the path we’re on is not sustainable; the path we’re on will force businesses to close their doors and lay off workers; the path we’re on will expose taxpayers to greater risk of a multi-billion dollar bailout; the path we’re on will destroy the retirement security of families across the country.

More than 10 million Americans participate in a multiemployer pension plan, including roughly three and a half million retirees. These men and women helped build our roads and bridges; they transported goods from factory floors to store shelves; they delivered energy to power our homes and businesses; they made it possible to reach into space and helped keep our homeland safe.

For decades these men and women worked hard providing for their families and helping to make this nation the greatest on Earth. The same is true for those in the workforce today, the teamsters, builders, miners, machinists, and store clerks – to name a few – who labor every day to meet the needs of their loved ones and country.

Throughout their careers, these men and women were promised that a multiemployer pension would ensure financial security during retirement. Each year in the workforce was another year closer to a retirement filled with hope, a retirement built on the expectation this promise would be kept and their future was financially secure. Yet for many Americans, this promise is now in jeopardy.

The multiemployer pension system is a ticking time bomb that will inflict a lot of pain on homes and workplaces. According to the best information available, multiemployer plans have $818 billion in benefit liabilities yet only $397 billion in assets, which means collectively plans face a $421 billion funding shortfall. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation – the federal backstop to defined benefit plans – warns its multiemployer pension program will be insolvent in fewer than 10 years, thanks to more obligations and fewer resources. I’ll let the technical experts discuss later today the underlying causes of these challenges.

However, there is one leading culprit worth mentioning: A persistently weak economy. The same failed policies that foster high unemployment and stagnant wages also exacerbate the problems plaguing the multiemployer pension system. Returning to policies that promote robust growth would go a long way toward restoring the prosperity every working family needs.

Unfortunately, an economy firing on all cylinders can’t save the most severely troubled pension plans from insolvency. One of the largest plans pays $5 in benefits for every $1 it receives in contributions. Another plan has roughly six retirees for each active employee. These are systemic problems that afflict other plans as well. It is only a matter of time before a sizable number of large plans go bankrupt.

What happens then? For starters, the men and women in these plans will fall onto PBGC and many – if not most – will have their benefits cut. The PBGC will then be overwhelmed and unable to continue offering the support it has provided for nearly four decades, leaving some retirees with nothing. Finally, we will see a domino effect across the system, placing plans that are in good shape now on the brink of ruin in the future, spreading risk and uncertainty to more employers, workers, and retirees.

This is not a pretty picture by any means, but we have to be brutally honest about the magnitude of the challenges that exist. It’s easy to think we are dealing with just dollars and cents. Fundamentally we are dealing with the livelihood of real people, our friends, neighbors, and relatives. Lives were built around a promise and we have to help find a way to keep that promise.

The good news is there is an effort underway to address the problem. A group of business and labor representatives has put forward a package of reforms entitled, “Solutions, Not Bailouts.” Crafted by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, or NCCMP, the proposal reflects key principles that should be a part of any serious legislative reform.

First, the proposal provides a framework for a modern multiemployer pension system. Twentieth-century policies can’t keep up with a 21st century workforce. It’s time to start being more creative about the options workers should have to plan for their retirement.

Second, the proposal encourages greater employer participation. We need to stop the exodus of employers from the multiemployer system. Just as important, we need to remove barriers that discourage new employers from joining. Expanding the pool of participating employers will reduce risk and strengthen the system.

Third, the proposal provides trustees with new tools to restore deeply troubled plans back to financial health. When they are out of options and fighting for survival, multiemployer plans need more flexibility to avoid insolvency. One idea in particular has attracted a great deal of attention, one that would allow for a reduction in earned benefits. A few years ago such an idea would have been unthinkable, but we are forced to confront a hard truth.

If we do nothing, benefits will be cut. Let me repeat that: If we do nothing, benefits will be cut. It’s only a question of when and by whom. We could sit back, let these plans fail, and watch the federal government inflict maximum pain on the maximum number of people. Or we can allow those responsible for these plans to adjust benefits as a last resort and in a way that accounts for the needs of its participants. The choice NCCMP offers is between an axe in the hand of a first year med student or a scalpel in the hand of a trusted surgeon.

Fourth and finally, the proposal protects taxpayers. By offering new alternatives to the old model, inviting more employers into the system, and saving troubled plans, NCCMP has laid out a path that will put multiemployer pensions on more sound financial footing and help end the threat of a taxpayer bailout.

The president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department described the package of reforms as “reasonable and workable.” The head of the Associated General Contractors of America said it’s a “pragmatic, reasonable…self-sufficient approach” to preserve these pensions. It’s not every day you see labor and management working side-by-side on such an important issue. NCCMP has shown what’s possible when we work together in good faith. That is precisely what we intend to do in Congress.

Under the leadership of our subcommittee chairman, Congressman Phil Roe, we have held half a dozen hearings to examine the problems and possible solutions. We are actively engaging key stakeholders, including employers, union leaders, and retiree advocates. We are also working with members on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the Capitol, as well as the administration, to find common ground and unite behind a responsible legislative solution.

I know some of what’s being discussed is controversial and not everyone agrees with the ideas that are on the table. We welcome the debate and opposing views. If you have suggested reforms that embody the principles I’ve just discussed, we want to hear from you. But we need to hear from you soon.

With each passing day there are fewer choices and tougher decisions to make. We have to get this done. We have to get this done for employers struggling to run successful businesses. We have to get this done for taxpayers already drowning in red ink. More importantly, we have to get this done for those men and women clinging to the promise they can enjoy a retirement that is financially secure. I look forward to working together on this important effort. Thank you.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Kline to Speak at Pension Reform Event Hosted by Bloomberg Government

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/30/2014 - 12:00am

On Thursday, May 1, 2014 House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) will deliver remarks on multiemployer pension reform at an event hosted by Bloomberg Government and sponsored by the Quality Construction Alliance. 

More than 10 million individuals participate in a multiemployer pension plan. Unfortunately, the pension system faces significant challenges that threaten the retirement security of American families. For almost two years, the committee has been closely examining the current state of the multiemployer pension system and possible reforms. In his remarks on Thursday, Chairman Kline will discuss key principles for reform, as well as address a specific proposal released by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, a coalition representing both business and labor leaders.  

WHO:            House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) 

WHAT:          A discussion hosted by Bloomberg Government on multiemployer pension reform 

WHEN:          Thursday, May 1, 2014
                       8:30 a.m. ET 

WHERE:        Bloomberg Government
                       1101 K. St. NW
                       Suite 500
                       Washington, D.C. 20005 

NOTE: Members of the media and general public wishing to attend must register with Bloomberg Government. The event will be streamed live on Bloomberg Government’s website. For more information, click here

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Kline: Prioritize Funding for Special Needs Students

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/29/2014 - 4:45pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today urged the Obama administration and House Appropriations Committee leadership to increase support for students with disabilities by prioritizing federal funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Following a hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the president’s budget and policy priorities for the Department of Education, Chairman Kline said, “Years ago the federal government pledged to provide critical support to special needs children, yet Republicans and Democrats alike have repeatedly failed to keep that promise. As I told Secretary Arne Duncan earlier today, parents and school leaders aren’t asking for new competitive grants or funding for duplicative early childhood programs – they’re begging for more support for the nation’s most vulnerable students. It’s time to reassess our priorities, and I am going to do everything in my power to advocate for a renewed federal commitment to children with disabilities.”

Chairman Kline also joined House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) in submitting a formal request for a $1.5 billion increase in IDEA Part B funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, bringing the total funding to $13 billion.

In the letter, the members state:

Although our requested increase still falls short of the federal government’s commitment to special needs children, such a meaningful increase would generate significant new funding for all states and districts, giving policymakers and educators more freedom to use state and local funds to strengthen general and special education in their communities.

As our nation struggles with debt levels that have eclipsed the size of the entire U.S. economy, difficult choices must be made. We must stop wasting taxpayer dollars on new and ineffective programs and instead work toward meeting our basic obligation to ensure special needs children are prepared for success after high school. We urge you to renew Congress’s commitment to these students, their families, and their educators.

To read the letter, click here. To view a chart illustrating how the requested increase in funding would help school districts, click here.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on "Reviewing the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal for the Department of Education”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:00am

Each year, the secretary comes before this committee to discuss the administration’s policies and priorities for the Department of Education. And each year, he is faced with the undesirable task of defending a bloated budget full of new, unproven programs, burdensome federal mandates, and competitive grants that pressure schools to adopt the president’s preferred policies.

For fiscal year 2015, the budget request for the department clocks in at an incredible $82.3 billion. This includes nearly $70 billion in discretionary spending and $13 billion in mandatory funding for pet projects, such as the president’s Preschool for All proposal and new teacher preparation initiatives – both of which, I might add, are redundant to dozens of existing federal programs.

We have discussed time and again the fact that more programs and higher spending have had little measurable impact on students’ academic achievement. Though the administration has pumped billions of dollars into the nation’s education system since 2009, student achievement remains largely unchanged.

Families, school leaders, and taxpayers deserve a better way forward. Rather than continue to throw good money after bad and pile new program on top of old, we need an administration that will work with Congress to advance lasting solutions to the challenges facing schools nationwide.

But instead of supporting our efforts to strengthen K-12 education, the Obama administration has implemented a convoluted, temporary waiver scheme that makes the secretary of education the sole arbiter of elementary and secondary education policy.

Instead of helping us address problems in postsecondary education through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the Obama administration continues to push for shortsighted mandates and federal price controls that will limit innovation and levy new regulatory burdens on colleges and universities.

And instead of working with us to ensure the federal government fulfills its basic commitment to students with disabilities by prioritizing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Obama administration has opted to ramp up spending on untested and often duplicative programs. Worse, the president’s budget threatens to further reduce IDEA funding for most districts by shifting the funds into yet another competitive grant program.

Each of these initiatives is undermining progress in the nation’s schools and preventing students from accessing the quality education opportunities they need for success. The House Education and the Workforce Committee has advanced a number of proposals that will reshape our education system and provide teachers, school administrators, and postsecondary education leaders with the flexible framework necessary to more effectively serve students.

For example, last summer the House approved the Student Success Act, legislation to restore state and local control in K-12 education, empower parents, and reduce federal burdens in the classroom. The Student Success Act is the first bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that has been considered in either the House or Senate in more than a decade.

Mr. Secretary, you have repeatedly noted the importance of reauthorizing this law. Clearly, many differences remain. Though prospects may seem unlikely, I believe we all share a sincere desire to find enough common ground to craft a solution that puts students first. But we need support from the administration, not more waivers that serve as roadblocks to real reform.

In addition to our progress in reforming K-12 education, the committee has spent more than a year preparing to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. We’ve held more than a dozen hearings to examine myriad issues facing postsecondary institutions and students, and moved legislation to enhance transparency and eliminate federal regulations that will disproportionately harm low-income students and threaten the strength of our higher education system.

As we continue working toward a rewrite of the Higher Education Act, I urge the secretary to abandon the intrusive polices and punitive regulatory proposals outlined in the president’s budget and instead work with us to craft legislation that will help meet our shared goals of improving transparency, affordability, and access to postsecondary education.

Before I yield to my distinguished colleague, Mr. George Miller, for his opening remarks, I want to make one final request to Secretary Duncan. After each hearing, the committee members on both sides of the aisle submit to your department questions for the record. As our time here in the hearing is limited, these supplemental questions help us continue our oversight of the department’s programs and policies.

However, I am troubled by the significant delay in response to these questions. Just a few days ago, the committee finally received answers to the questions submitted to the secretary after this hearing almost one year ago. I sincerely hope this will not be the case with the questions you receive following today’s hearing.

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Five Questions for the Secretary of Education

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:00am

Today Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the department’s budget and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Nearly one year has passed since the secretary last appeared before the committee, and members are eager to discuss the president’s latest education proposals. Here are five questions for the secretary that should help get the conversation started:

  1. Mr. Secretary, why do you want to spend billions of dollars on new programs instead of working to meet our commitment to students with disabilities?
    President Obama’s budget proposals have consistently and significantly underfunded the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The president’s latest budget would further reduce the federal contribution to special education for most school districts by shifting the funding to yet another competitive grant program. How does the department justify billions in new spending while ignoring its existing promise to special needs children?
     
  2. When will the administration pressure Senate leaders to complete the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act? Secretary Duncan has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of reauthorizing the nation’s K-12 education law, known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  However, the administration continues to focus its attention on a convoluted and temporary waiver scheme that is undermining congressional efforts to rewrite the law. The House has approved the Student Success Act; it’s time for the Senate to move forward with its education legislation so we can craft a final bicameral agreement for the president’s signature. Mr. Secretary, when will you urge Democratic leaders in the Senate to bring comprehensive education reform up for a vote?
     
  3. Will the administration shelve its punitive postsecondary regulatory agenda and instead work with Congress to strengthen our higher education system?
    The Obama administration continues to press forward with multiple new regulations, including upcoming teacher preparation program regulations announced just last week. Many of these proposals will disproportionately harm low-income students, and several have been widely rejected by Congress, institutions, and even the federal court system. Right now there is an effort underway in Congress to improve the nation’s postsecondary education system through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Mr. Secretary, isn’t it time you joined that effort rather than continue to push the administration’s education agenda through more executive actions, federal mandates, and new programs?
     
  4. Mr. Secretary, are you concerned about the negative consequences facing students, educators, and schools as a result of the fatally-flawed health care law? For more than three years, the nation has been grappling with the realities of President Obama’s health care law. We are learning more each day about how the resulting increase in health care costs, decrease in full-time jobs, and loss of existing health coverage harms families and workplaces. However, the repercussions of the health care law for the nation’s education system have received less attention. Mr. Secretary, are you aware of the higher costs facing many school districts as a result of this law? What steps is the administration taking to try to help students, school administrators, and higher education leaders manage the unexpected challenges resulting from the health care law?
     
  5. How will the president’s proposed Preschool for All initiative work better than existing federal and state early childhood initiatives? President Obama’s budget requests $1.3 billion (and a total of $75 billion over 10 years) for an expansive new early childhood education program. At a recent committee hearing, Chairman Kline joined his committee colleagues in questioning the wisdom of piling another preschool initiative on top of dozens of existing federal early childhood programs, many of which are not working as effectively as we’d hoped. Mr. Secretary, can you explain why it is more important to create a new program instead of reforming and strengthening current initiatives?
Tune in at 10am ET to see committee members discuss these and other critical education issues with Secretary Duncan. Click here to watch a live webcast, or click here to learn more about today’s hearing.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Secretary Duncan to Discuss Education Department's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and Policy Priorities

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:00am

On Tuesday, April 29 at 10:00 a.m., the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Reviewing the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal for the Department of Education.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

In his Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal, President Obama requested $68.6 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Education, a $1.3 billion increase over last year’s funding level. This is on top of $6.4 billion in mandatory spending for Pell Grants, $1.3 billion in mandatory funding for a new universal preschool program, $4 billion in mandatory funds for new state grants to improve public higher education systems, $647 million in mandatory funds for a new College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus, and $5 billion in mandatory funding to reform the teaching profession, among other mandatory expenses, bringing the total education budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 to $82.3 billion.

Tuesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to review the administration’s budget request and examine the department’s education policies. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will offer testimony and answer members' questions during the hearing. To learn more about this hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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WITNESS LIST


The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary
Department of Education
Washington, D.C.  

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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